what do the two houses and the quilt symbolize?

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mickey2bailey eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The 2 quilts and the 2 houses symbolize over 50 years of cultural heritage in this family.  The first house burnt to the ground 12 years ago and they built a new home almost exactly the same in the same setting, the pasture, as the old house.  The only difference was thaat the roof was made out of tin and not shingles.  Dee didn;t want to stay in the house.  She was embarassed over their poverty and wanted the finer things in life and moved away to get them.  Then she returns home and wants to take things that have been in the family for years: the 2 quilts and the churn and dasher.  She wants to display them as proof of her heritage.  Her mother tells her that she has promised them to Maggie.  Dee feels that she will use them, instead of hanging them up, and they will be ruined.  Mother is proud that Maggie will use them because they are part of her heritage, which is handed down from generation to generation.  Since Maggie was always home with her grandmother, mother and other family relatives she learned the art of quilting and will be able to carry the traditon on through the years.  Dee moved away to leave her "heritage" and now wants to show her African American pride by displaying her cultural past.  Maggie has bee the "heritage" and will show her pride everyday of her life.

Source:  The Language of Literature Book by McDougal Littell