In Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," Dee at first looks to be a source of pride for her mother who awaits her return with baited breath. Mrs. Johnson even envisions her reunion with her daughter as a bit on The Late Show with Johnny Carson.
So, Dee is very beautiful and intelligent. She is the first in her family to leave home and attend college. In college, she has converted to the Black Nationalist Muslim movement, spearheaded by Malcolm X and, before him, Elijah Muhommed and Marcus Garvey. So, Dee champions black separatism, African pride, and the tenets of Islam. As such, she is very outspoken--certainly a leader on campus.
Dee is very used to getter her way. In any other situation, she would have gotten her mother's heirlooms and blessing, but in rural Georgia, Dee's outspokenness comes across as materialistic and shamefully greedy. On a college campus in the 1970s, however, a beautiful black woman who made strong rhetorical appeals usually would have gotten her way.