Through the use of a quilt, symbolic of the connecting pieces of one's roots and one's past, Alice Walker writes a story that provides the reader with the conflicting ideas about identity and ancestry that a family has.
In "Everyday Use," while the modern daughter has previously wanted nothing to do with the homemade furniture and the quilt as she has risen above her environment, she now sees the quilt as quaint, something to take back to the city and hang as "folk art"; the other sister has been promised this blanket that contains the history of the family in squares from Civil War uniforms, old shirts, etc. And, when the scarred, uneducated sister Maggie tells her sister Dee that she may have the quilt, the mother realizes who truly deserves this coverlet. It is Maggie who will truly appreciate the stitches made, the cloth from her father's clothes, scraps from old dresses. So, the mother awards the family quilt to Maggie, who will use the quilt, not merely display it. Maggie will continue the life of the quilt. After Dee departs, the melancholic Maggie smiles a "real smile," a gesture symbolic of the authenticity of her feelings and use of the quilt.