In Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," what are the quilts?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The quilts in the story symbolize Maggie and Dee's family heritage. Made by their mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, each quilt was made from scraps of clothing once worn by the girls' ancestors, including pieces of their great-grandfather's Civil War uniform. The girls view these quilts quite differently. To Maggie, they represent her family; she still remembers with love her grandmother who made one of them. To Dee, however, the quilts have no emotional value. She regards them as a type of folk art that will look impressive hanging upon her walls. (Dee embraces her African heritage while rejecting her personal family history.) Their differing attitudes toward the quilts capture the sisters' conflicting values. 

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