Why does Dee take pictures of the house?

In "Everyday Use," Dee takes pictures of the house because she wants to have material proof of her "heritage." She isn't interested in the stories or the traditions of her family so much as she's interested in physical evidence of her humble origins. In addition to the pictures, Dee takes items that her mother and sister still use daily so that she can do something artistic with them. To her, heritage is in the objects rather than the memories.

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Dee takes pictures of the house because she seems to want to prove, or to have some evidence of, her humble beginnings. Dee has suddenly become very desirous of having mementos of her family and things that are connected to her heritage. However, she seems much more concerned with the things themselves—the photographs she takes of the house, the dasher and the churn top, and the quilts—than she does with actually learning about her family's history or traditions.

It is Maggie who knows how to quilt, and she can make more quilts when the ones Mama's been saving for her eventually fall apart. It is Maggie who knows all of the family stories connected to the material items that Dee cares about so much. Maggie knows that she can remember her grandmother without the quilts, but Dee doesn't seem concerned about remembering anything or anyone. She just wants the quilts to hang on her wall and the churn top and dasher to do something "artistic" with. The pictures Dee takes of the house—and the fact that she does this even before she kisses her mother—help to convey the idea that her concept of heritage is a bit shallow compared to her sister's or her mother's.

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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.

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