What is the significance of the quilts to Maggie and her mother?

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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In the short story "EVeryday Use," the quilts symbolize Mama's heritage. The quilts have been passed down from generation to generation. The quilts have been sewn by loving hands of Mama's ancestors.

When Dee decides she wants the quilts, Mama says they have been promised to Maggie. Dee is upset by this. Indignantly, Dee states that Maggie will use them for everyday use. Mama replies that that is exactly why she is giving them to Maggie.

Mama cherishes the fact that the quilts are precious heirlooms, but she wants Maggie to use them for the purpose that they were made. Dee desires to hang them up as a item of decor. Mama has already promised them to Maggie.

The quilts symbolize the hard work and effort that loving hands have wrought. Maggie appreciates the quilts the way Mama does. Dee is not connected emotionally with the quilts. She is superior now to her humble upbringing:

Dee, on the other hand, has been ambitious and determined since girlhood to rise above her humble beginnings

She has detached herself from her Southern heritage. She has separated herself from those who stitched every single stitch in the quilts. Mama does not approve of Dee's attitude. Plus, she had already promised the quilts to Maggie. Maggie appreciates Mama's sentiments on the quilts.

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