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In the short story "Everyday Use," by Alice Walker, the characters are Mama, Dee and Maggie. Mama and Maggie have just swept the yard, awaiting a visit from Dee. Dee has been away at college. She has changed since leaving home. Dee has changed her name to an African name. She is absorbed with her African heritage. She has forsaken her Southern culture. She has left her Southern heritage behind.
Although Dee is determined to live out her African culture, she desires the butter churning top for her home's decor. She also desires to have the quilts which are heirlooms. Mama has promised the quilts to Maggie because she will use them and appreciate them. Dee is offended, claiming that Maggie will use them for everyday use, thus the title of the short story.
Realizing that Dee has stopped by to get particular items, Mama insists that Maggie will get the quilts. Dee begins pouting. Mama knows that Maggie will need the quilts. Also, Dee has no idea who made the quilts. She does not appreciate the family history that is behind the making of the quilts. Mama has made up her mind. Maggie will get the quilts. Maggie smiles. This is the first time she has ever won anything over Dee.
Relvoing around a family conflict triggered by a proud, confident character Dee's desire to obtain her personal and cultural heritage but inability to appreciate genuine identity of other characters, her mother and very disparate sister, Maggie, "Everyday Use" underscores a generation gap and a contrast between two distinctively different attitudes toward heritage. Although Maggie and their mother do not attempt to understand their cultural heritiage intellectually, they know and can feel it everyday by simply living their cultural heritage, maintained int he form of family relics: the quilt.
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