Where is the falling action in "Everyday Use?"

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The falling action in "Everyday Use" is very short and occurs right after Mrs. Johnson makes the decision to give the quilts to Maggie. The climax is just before, when Dee asks for the quilts so she can hang them up and show off her old-fashioned heritage; when Maggie passively agrees, saying that she doesn't need the physical quilts to remember her grandmother, Mrs. Johnson puts her foot down and tells Dee that she can have other quilts, but not these. Dee, in a huff, leaves, telling Mrs. Johnson that she doesn't understand:

"What don't I understand?" I wanted to know.

"Your heritage," she said, And then she turned to Maggie, kissed her, and said, "You ought to try to make something of yourself, too, Maggie. It's really a new day for us. But from the way you and Mama still live you'd never know it."
(Walker, "Everyday Use," xroads.virginia.edu)

This leads into Maggie's only moment of true happiness in the story, when Dee leaves. The falling action is simply the moment where Dee shows her shallow nature and meaningless frustration; this results from the climax and leads into the resolution. It is over so quickly that it is easy to miss, but it is the moment where the differences between Dee and her family are thrown into sharp relief, and where it becomes obvious that "heritage" is something that Dee lost track of long before she left to pursue her materialistic dreams.