In "Everyday Use," what happens in the mother's dream about appearing on televison?
The dream episode that occurs in the second paragraph of this short story is highly ironic, as it discusses the kind of relationship that Mama and Dee definitely do not have, and Mama flirts with the idea of what would happen if they had a more conventional relationship and were placed on a TV show together where Dee would be able to thank her for all that she had done for her. Note the details that Mama gives to this ironic dream:
Then we are on the stage and Dee is embracing me with tears in her eyes. She pins on my dress a large orchid, even though she has told me once that she thinks orchids are tacky flowers.
Mama thus imagines herself and Dee to be starring roles in the kind of scene that is shown on television chat shows, where successful sons and daughters are interviewed and then surprised by the presence of their parents which gives them an opportunity to thank them for all they have done. The irony is that in reality Mama does not look like the coiffeured version of herself that she recognises Dee would want her to be: "a hundred pounds lighter, my skin liked uncooked barley pancake. My hair glistens in the hot bright lights." The dream and reality collide in the rest of the story, where Mama, for the first time it seems, denies Dee something that she wants.