In "Everyday Use," why do people disagree about which character is the protagonist? Who is the protagonist, and what is she striving for?

Expert Answers
Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dee is the story's protagonist. Her arrival sets the story into motion. Her actions drive the story. Walker's theme is developed primarily through Dee. Her selfishness and insensitivity toward her mother and her sister Maggie forms the context of the story. Maggie gives in to her sister's demands, as she always did when they were children; Dee's mother assesses her character realistically--and condemns it. Maggie and her mother are developed in their reactions to Dee.

As a child, Dee left home eagerly, striving to find a different kind of life from the life of poverty into which she had been born. She succeeded. When she came home for a visit, she was not interested in her mother or her sister. She was interested only in their few antique possessions that had material value in Dee's world, especially an old quilt sewn by her and Maggie's grandmother. During her visit, Dee's only objective was to take what she wanted and leave.

It is perhaps difficult to view Dee as the story's protagonist because the reader usually identifies and sympathizes with the protagonist, and Dee is not someone to admire or emulate.