The short story "Everyday Use" is primarily based on the characterization of Dee, the narrator, and Maggie. Dee woks as a character foil for both Maggie and the narrator, who is the mother of the two girls.
Maggie is very timid and shy. She does not possess the looks that Dee does. "Dee is lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure." Maggie was badly burned in the fire that took their old house and has never entirely recovered. Maggie is described by her mother who says, "have you ever seen a lame animal, perhaps a dog run over by some careless person rich enough to own a car, sidle up to someone who is ignorant enough to be kind to him? That is the way my Maggie walks. She has been like this, chin on chest, eyes on ground, feet in shuffle, ever since the fire that burned the other house to the ground."
Dee, on the other hand, is brave and outgoing. "She would always look anyone in the eye. Hesitation was no part of her nature." Dee is also very intelligent and uses this to belittle the other two characters. "She used to read to us without pity; forcing words, lies, other folks' habits, whole lives upon us two, sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice. She washed us in a river of make-believe, burned us with a lot of knowledge we didn't necessarily need to know . . . to shove us away at just the moment, like dimwits, we seemed about to understand."