What is the significance of the quilts in "Everyday Use"?

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The differing ways in which Dee and Mama view the quilts is representative of their difference of opinion overall in this story about what constitutes African American, and family, heritage. To Mama and Maggie, the quilts are living history. Although Maggie says, "I can remember Grandma Dee without the quilts," the quilts are composed of her grandmother's dresses, and pieces of her mother's dresses, and uniforms from the Civil War, and were sewn by hand. They were made to be used, and for Maggie, to receive these quilts upon her marriage and put them to "everyday use" would represent a rite of passage as she becomes the next in a line of Johnson women, part of a family heritage that is not something of the past.

Dee, we are told, has rejected this family heritage more than once. When she went away to college, she rejected an offer of a quilt, declaring it "old fashioned," and she has rejected her own name, "Dee," because although she was named after her aunt Dee and her grandmother before...

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