Why does Dee take pictures of the house? 

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Maggie and her mother use family heirlooms for their practical purposes as well as the for the connection they feel to their ancestors. Dee (Wangero), on the other hand, wants some of these items for purely aesthetic purposes. Dee might actually think she is paying homage to her ancestors in this way, but her intent to display these items as cultural artifacts seems quite superficial. When she asks for the butter churn, she intends to use it as a centerpiece rather than as a tool for making butter. And, of course, Dee wants the quilts for display purposes as well. She wants to display her family's heritage like an explorer who has returned with items from a more "primitive" culture, showing these items like trophies. There is something superficial and even mocking in this gesture.

When Dee emerges from the car and starts taking pictures, she is doing the same thing. She wants to document her family's quaint, primitive way of life to show the pictures to her more "modernized" friends. Dee is not wrong for being progressive, but she clearly misses the point of the real value of something like a family quilt or their way of life. The quilt represents family connection. The different pieces are sown together. Maggie would use the quilt as a bed cover, every day, literally and figuratively connecting her to her ancestors. Dee doesn't get this. She would rather take a picture of it.