What does mama think about dee and her accomplishments

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cldbentley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Everyday Use," a short story written by Alice Walker, Mama's oldest daughter, Dee, returns home for a short visit after happily leaving her home behind in order find a life that is good enough for her.  Mama informs the reader that Dee hated her family's home and "wanted nice things," such as fancy clothing.

Mama never actually says how she feels about Dee's accomplishments.  Instead, her apparent feelings are revealed indirectly.  For example, when Dee steps out of the car, Mama's impression of the dress has to do with its impracticality first and gaudiness second.  When Dee informs Mama that her name is now "Wangero," Mama is obviously irritated and chooses to refuse to trace the family name back any further than a few generations, even though she is certainly capable of doing so; Mama also responds to Dee's pushing with a noticeable degree of smart aleckness.

Although Mama avoids any open confrontation with Dee, and even allows Dee to take certain items that she sees only as decorative pieces and does not appreciate for their true beauty, Mama refuses to allow Dee to have Maggie's quilts.  This, along with other comments and subtle actions, makes it clear to the reader that Mama realizes that Dee has not truly accomplished anything that is not superficial or somehow related to vanity.