Why does Dee want the quilts saved for Maggie in "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker?
In Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," Dee wants the quilts simply because they would make attractive accents to her new home and her new life, not because they have significance having been sewn by hand by women who came before her, worked hard, suffered and built a life for themselves. For Dee has rejected that part of her heritage.
Her sister Maggie sees the world in a much different way. It is because of the hands that have joined the tidbits of cloth together that she values the quilts and wants to use them "everyday," and so honor the lives of love and sacrifice of her ancestors.
Maggie doesn't see very good and she is not overly intelligent. Mother and daughter have more in common with each other than with Dee. Dee has left her roots of poverty behind her. She cares nothing for her heritage, a major theme in the story.
Dee is very intelligent. She can use language. She reads. Her humor is "scalding" like bubbles in lye—a harsh chemical substance often used to make soaps. There seems to be little softness in her, and little desire to recognize her family or the people she comes from. She has not visited in a long time. This is something of an event for the narrator, but Maggie isn't greatly impressed.
When Dee arrives at the house, with a "stocky man," she is wearing a traditional African dress. Dee greets them, "Wa-su-zo-Tean-o!" The man has taken an African name—Asalamalakim: but he'll answer to Hakim-a-barber. Dee announces that she has a new name as well:
Not 'Dee,' Wangero Leewanika Kemajo!
Dee also announces that the person who was once Dee is now dead.
I couldn't bear it any longer being named after the people who oppress me.
Although Dee wants...
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