Everyday Use Questions and Answers
by Alice Walker

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Who is the antagonist in "Everyday Use"?

Dee, or Wangero, is the antagonist of the story "Everyday Use." Her inability to appreciate the true meaning of the quilts is the basis of the conflict in the story.

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To the extent that there is an antagonist, it would have to be Dee, the daughter who has gone off to live in the city and who has become interested in her heritage. She is an antagonist if you understand the conflict in the story as being about who gets the quilts. She "knows better" than her mother about the value of the quilts, but in fact, she wants the quilts in order to exhibit them like a trophy in her home as a way of marking for her friends how far she has travelled from the family farm.

The quilts, however, mean something very different for her mother. While she appreciates the work her mother and grandmother put into making them by hand, she also recognizes that the way to honor that work is to use them. For her, the love the quilts represent remains a living thing in their home, and by giving them to Maggie, she is preserving that legacy, even if the quilts themselves are destroyed in the process.

In fact, Dee appears to be unappreciative of the sacrifices her mother and the community made to raise money to send her to school. She similarly cannot understand the decision to give the quilts to Maggie. It is this mixture of self righteousness and selfishness that makes her into an antagonist.

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