What is the meaning of the title "Everyday Use"?

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In this short story, Mama has to make a decision about which of her daughters should inherit a couple of quilts, which are really family heirlooms containing pieces of their shared history. No ordinary quilts, these have been pieced together with meaningful scraps of fabric:

In both of them were scraps of dresses Grandma Dee had worn fifty and more years ago. Bits and pieces of Grandpa Jarrell’s Paisley shirts. And one teeny faded blue piece, about the size of a penny matchbox, that was from Great Grandpa Ezra’s uniform that he wore in the Civil War.

Dee has returned home to claim these...

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The phrase "everyday use" crystallizes the conflict in the story and governs the structure. As the action develops we see the contrasting values of the two sisters. Dee rejects the past and is creating a new identity for herself. Maggie simply takes the past for granted and also accepts her role in the movement from past to present to future. These two movements of values intersect at the quilt and what is to be done with it. Should it be hung on a wall for display, or should it be put to "everyday use"? Though the story exposes Dee’s pretentiousness, it would seem to be suggesting a compromise. The African-American heritage is alive and present; creative people cannot build the future if they reject the past, for they can develop only if they accept it first and recognize their part in it. In short, people like Dee should put the past to work as a part of their continuing, living consciousness.

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