Everyday Use Questions and Answers
by Alice Walker

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Who is the protagonist in "Everyday Use"?

Mrs. Johnson, or Mama, the narrator, is the protagonist of "Everyday Use." The narrative most closely follows Mama's thoughts and actions, especially because she is the first-person narrator of the text.

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The protagonist in "Everyday Use" is the narrator, Mrs. Johnson, or "Mama," the mother of Dee and Maggie. She is the main character in the story: the one whose thoughts and feelings the narrative follows most closely.

Readers witness Mama's contentment with her life prior to Dee's arrival, an event which seems to make both her and Maggie nervous and apprehensive. She tries to please Dee, agreeing to call her by a new name despite the fact that Dee was given a family name and named after Mama's mother and sister. She even allows Dee to take a number of kitchen items that Mama and Maggie still use everyday.

However, when Dee demands the quilts that Mama promised to Maggie—quilts that she herself rejected years before, saying that they are too "old fashioned"—Mama has a sort of epiphany. She says it feels just like when she's "in church and the spirit of God touches [her]" and she gets happy and shouts. She seems to realize how shallow Dee's concept of heritage is and how much more deserving Maggie is of the precious family quilts; Maggie has taken the time and put in the effort to learn the stories and traditions associated with them. Mama tells Dee "no," perhaps for the first time ever, refusing to give her the quilts. Her perspective on her daughters seems to have fundamentally changed, making her a dynamic character, just like most protagonists.

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