Describe the relationship between Maggie and Dee in "Everyday Use".

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Maggie is a shy, quiet person who shuffles about the house and has no aspirations for the future. Mama says that Maggie knows she's not bright. Dee is a very excited person who has more curves than Maggie does. She is also a very intelligent person and was sent to school by Mama and the church so she can achieve something more in life than their small community could offer.

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Maggie believes that Dee has not been exposed to any real struggles, and to some extent, she is jealous of her sister. Maggie is of the opinion that she has sacrificed a lot for her sister’s happiness. The family did not have enough money to send them both to school,...

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and it took the Church's intervention to enable Dee to pursue an education.

Maggie is also clearly intimidated by her sister and believes her sister to be cold even towards her.

She wrote me once that no matter where we “choose” to live, she will manage to come see us. But she will never bring her friends. Maggie and I thought about this and Maggie asked me, “Mama, when did Dee ever have any friends?”

Thus, apart from being sisters and sharing a mother, there is nothing else that defines their relationship. Although Maggie is intimidated by her sister, she does not hesitate to demonstrate her displeasure when Dee asks to have the old quilts.

Dee, on the other hand, looks down upon her sister and believes she is backward. She suggests that Maggie would not appreciate the quilts and would instead put them to everyday use. Dee feels a sense of entitlement, which defines her relationship with Maggie.

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Maggie is a shy, introverted girl. She has scars on her arms and legs from the fire that burned her house about twelve years ago. Maggie is a slow reader. Mama says she has always been slow. Maggie lives with Mama and works hard along side her mother. She is not ambitious like Dee. Maggie is withdrawn from society. Mama describes Maggie as not too bright:

Maggie has a little education, but according to her mother, 'she is not bright. Like good looks and money, quickness passed her by.' 

On the other hand, Dee is vibrant, gregarious--outgoing. She is well educated. She has been attending the university and she is proud of her education. Dee has been studying her African heritage. She has changed her name to an African name. She is dressed in African clothes with bright colors. She wears large dangling earrings. She is a picture of her African heritage.

She has come to visit to gather some heirlooms in order to decorate her house. Although she desires the quilts that are heirlooms, Mama says they belong to Maggie. Dee pouts. Mama says Maggie will really appreciate the love that was sewn into the quilts form generation to generation.

Dee is always the winning type. Maggie lives a life of defeat. When Mama insists that Maggie will get the quilts, Maggie smiles a real smile, and for the first time she is not afraid in her sister Dee's presence.

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In Everyday Use, according to Mama, how are Dee and Maggie different?

Maggie is "homely," shy, and has scars from her burns. Dee is lighter, "with nicer hair and a fuller figure." Maggie looks at Dee with "envy and awe." Maggie feels that life has always been easier for Dee than for her. 

Mama imagines meeting Dee on a famous talk show when Dee has become famous. Dee has always been successful, outgoing, and modern. In many ways, Dee and Maggie are opposites. Mama has no imaginings of Maggie in this way. 

According to Mama, Maggie walks like a lame animal with her head bent down. Much of Maggie's shyness has to do with the physical and mental trauma she endured in the fire. Dee is unharmed in the fire. Mama adds that Dee hated the house and was probably glad to see it burn down. But Mama adds that Dee does not hate Maggie. 

Dee "wanted nice things." There is definitely a superficial quality about Dee. When she asks for the quilts, she simply wants to display them. Maggie, on the other hand, would use them as blankets, the way they were intended. Maggie is practical. When Dee arrives, she is wearing a loud dress, earrings, and noisy bracelets. Her vivid dress and noisy bracelets announce her arrival as she shouts an African greeting. Meanwhile, Maggie shrinks back in shyness. 

When Dee asks for the quilts, Maggie says she can have them. Mama narrates that Maggie says this "like somebody used to never winning anything, or having anything reserved for her." Dee is quite the opposite. She is someone used to getting her way. 

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In "Everyday Use," what do Dee and Maggie have in common? How are they different?

In Alice Walker's short story "Everyday Use," Dee and Maggie share little in common other than their parentage, background, and heritage. Dee and Maggie were both raised in the same lowly home in rural Georgia, which burned down when they were young. Unfortunately, Maggie was severely injured during the house fire and is scarred from the traumatic incident.

Dee and Maggie also share the same heritage but have significantly different ideas on how they view and honor their ancestors. Dee does not inherently value the handmade items of her ancestors and is interested in the churn and antique quilts because they align with the current social trend of the time. Dee plans on displaying the traditional artifacts in her home and simply views them as interesting decorations with historical significance. In contrast, Maggie attaches sentimental value to the quilts and views her heritage as a living legacy, which she is very much a part of. Maggie's connection to her family's heritage and traditions is more immediate than Dee's and she plans on putting the antique quilts to everyday use.

In regards to personalities and lifestyles, Dee and Maggie could not be more different. Dee is portrayed as an outspoken, confident woman, who is educated and slightly arrogant. In contrast, Maggie is unattractive, timid, and uneducated. Maggie also struggles with self-esteem issues and fears her intimidating older sister. When Dee comes to visit, Maggie does not look her in the eye and attempts to hide behind Mama for the majority of the visit. Although she is upset that Dee requests to have the handmade quilts, Maggie is willing to give them away to appease her domineering sister. Despite Maggie's lowly description and timid nature, Alice Walker portrays her in a more positive light than Dee because of her sincerity and deep understanding of her family's heritage, which is something that Dee cannot comprehend.

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In "Everyday Use," what do Dee and Maggie have in common? How are they different?

As sisters, almost the only thing Dee and Maggie have in common is that they are sisters. Both have relatives in common, most significantly their mother, and they grew up together in Southern poverty. A more subtle similarity, however, can be noted between them. Both sisters have strong personal desires in their lives; both of them achieve their dreams, but in very different ways--and here the similarity essentially ends and the sharp differences between them begin.

From the time she was a young girl, Dee rejected the circumstances of her birth and wanted nothing in the world more than she wanted to leave her home and family behind in search of what she believed to be a more meaningful life. Dee craved education, sophistication and success in the world. She wanted a larger life on a bigger stage, surrounded by interesting people. She wanted to cut her ties to the family and the impoverished community that had produced her, and so she did.

In the story she returns only to carry away those of her mother's few possessions that she deems to be valuable antiques. She wants her mother's quilts not for sentimental reasons, but because they would look attractive in her big-city home. The fact that her grandmother had made the quilts means nothing to her. Dee is completely self-centered, completely insensitive to the feelings of others. Details in the story suggest that this is not new behavior for Dee. She had been selfish and aggressive  as a child, and her will had always subjugated any of Maggie's wants and needs. The Dee who comes home is an educated, sophisticated, fashionable young woman, in tune with current social trends. She is also cold and unfeeling.

In contrast, Maggie is eclipsed by her sister's star. She is shy and undemanding. Maggie has grown up always expecting second best. Bearing the scars from a terrible fire, she has remained at home with her mother, uneducated and unworldly. There is in Maggie, however, a sweetness and a vulnerability that make her a very appealing character, in contrast with her grasping sister. Maggie truly loves her mother and honors her family. When her one dream in life is about to come true--she will be married and have a home of her own--she wants her mother's quilts to use every day in her home, and she loves them because she remembers her grandmother's making them.

The title of the story, "Everyday Use," points the reader toward the most profound difference between Dee and Maggie, as shown by each sister's attitude toward their mother's quilts. For Dee, using the quilts every day is unthinkable because of their monetary value; for Maggie, using the quilts every day would be an act of love and remembrance. Dee's shallowness and her lack of emotional connection to her family is thus contrasted with Maggie's loving spirit.

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In "Everyday Use," what do Dee and Maggie have in common? How are they different?

In my view, the only thing that Dee and Maggie, two characters in Alice Walker's short story "Everyday Use," have in common is their parentage. Both are children of the mother-narrator. The differences between the two are enormous. Dee is outgoing and confident and adventuresome, Maggie is not. That's only the beginning. In my experiences of teaching this story, readers tend to follow the mother-narrator's prompts and identify with Maggie. Dee's position seems to be vilified, but I'm a supporter of Dee, as is Alice Walker, and when I ask students what they would do with a precious quilt, most agree that the quilt shouldn't be put to "everyday use."

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In "Everyday Use," compare and contrast Maggie and Dee.

Seen through the eyes of their mother, Dee and Maggie have more differences than similarities. Dee's very presence makes Maggie uncomfortable; their mother notes that Maggie will "stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eying her sister with a mixture of envy and awe." While Dee seems to thrive, living a life that never says no to her, Maggie merely survives it with the support of her mother. She is neither bright nor beautiful, and she has spent her life living in the shadow of Dee's successes.

Dee felt it her duty when younger to try to better educate her sister (and mother), forcing Maggie to sit and listen to a "lot of knowledge [she] didn't necessarily need to know." Unlike her sister, Dee wants nice things from an early age and tells her mother that she could never bear to bring her "friends" to see where her family lives. Maggie is most comfortable in her home with her mother, enjoying the security that it allows her.

The sisters also differ in their appreciation of their ancestry. Dee only wants to claim those parts of their ancestry from long ago, such as Grandma Dee's dress and Great Grandpa Ezra's Civil War uniform; she wishes to ignore her more immediate claims to ancestry, including being named after her Aunt Dee. She wishes to take the quilts and hang them with pride as a living symbol of her family's culture. Maggie doesn't have prideful ambition in mind for the quilts; she claims that she can remember their grandmother without the quilts and even offers to let Dee take them, an act of generosity that Dee would never have extended. Dee claims that Maggie is too simple to truly appreciate the value of the quilts and would put them to everyday, common use. She doesn't realize that Maggie finds value in the ordinary, not the extravagant.

Besides being sisters and sharing a common love for artifacts of their history, the two don't share many similarities. The story's focus on the differences between Dee and Maggie is meant to further the significance of their mother's decision about the quilts in the end.

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In "Everyday Use," compare and contrast Maggie and Dee.

On a figurative level—and perhaps even a literal level—Dee is the daughter who burns and Maggie is the daughter who is burned.  Maggie wears pink and red, the colors of burned skin, while Dee wears orange and yellow, colors associated with fire.  Mama even says that the dress Dee wears is "enough to throw back the light of the sun.  [She] feels [her] whole face warming from the heat waves it throws out."  They have acted so different from one another, especially "since the fire that burned the other house to the ground," when Maggie got her scars.  It even seems possible that Dee started the fire; by the time Mama and Maggie made it outside, Dee was already under the tree with "a look of concentration on her face as she watched" the house burn down.  "She had hated the house that much," Mama says.  As she got older, Mama says that Dee "burned [them] with a lot of knowledge" they did not need.  Even the boys she hung out with as a child wore "pink shirts" and revered her "scalding humor that erupted like bubbles in lye."  Dee is harsh while Maggie always seems like a victim.

Further, Maggie knows all the stories associated with the items that Dee now wants to take.  Dee is interested in the chute top and dasher that her family still uses daily, items that were made by other family members, only because she wants to do "something artistic" with them—not because she actually cares about what their purposes are or because she cares about the people who made them.  Maggie knows how to quilt, and she values the quilts because of the family tradition they represent; Dee only wants the quilts now—which she rejected years ago—because she wants to show them off and hang them on her wall.  Maggie, again, appreciates the everyday use which these family items should be put through in order to keep family tradition and heritage alive; Dee values these items as artifacts only and has no appreciation for what they are or what they mean.

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In "Everyday Use," compare and contrast Maggie and Dee.

In "Everyday Use," Dee and Maggie are foils:

  • Dee is beautiful; Maggie is ugly.
  • Dee is well-educated; Maggie is slow.
  • Dee is trendy; Maggie is plain.
  • Dee is on-the-go; Maggie is a homebody.
  • Dee is chatty; Maggie is quiet.
  • Dee is self-serving; Maggie is humble.

In literary terms, Dee is the alazon, an impostor who thinks she is better than she really is.  Maggie is an eiron, a self-deprecator who is better than she really is.  Dee is like the wicked step-mother and step-sisters and Maggie is like Cinderella.

By Mama's standards, Dee betrays her family's culture by trading it in for the pseudo-African one.  By changing her name, clothes, and identity, Dee does not deserve the family heirlooms (quilt).  Maggie, because she sews and cleans and cooks without compliant, is more like Big Dee (her grandmother) and, therefore, preserves her culture and is awarded the quilts and title of future matriarch of the family.

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In "Everyday Use," compare and contrast Maggie and Dee.

Really, apart from the fact that they are sisters, the text establishes little similarity between Maggie and Dee. Consider how Maggie is introduced in the first paragraph:

Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes: She will stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eyeing her sister with a mixture of envy and awe. She think her sister has held life always in the palm of one hand, that "no" is a word the world never learned to say to her.

This quote clearly establishes some of the central differences between the two sisters. Dee is confident, outgoing, ambitious and determined to make something of life, whereas Maggie is shy, reclusive and passive. Consider how the narrator describes her daughter as a "lame animal" who sidles "up to someone who is ignorant enough to be kind to him". Maggie, described in this fashion, is clearly painted as someone who has such a low sense of self-worth that they are amazed that anyone would actually want to talk to her.

However, the narrator says of Dee, "Hesitation was no part of her nature":

She was determined to stare down any disaster in her efforts... At sixteen she had a style of her own: and knew what style was.

It is clear then that Dee is incredibly self-confident and self-assured. She, as is amply evidenced later in the story, knows what she wants and will not stand for anyone getting in her way, which makes the narrator's decision to not give into her all the more remarkable.

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How are Maggie and Dee alike in the story "Everyday Use"?

Both girls come from the same background, and they are both beautiful in their own ways...Dee more ostentatious and outgoing, Maggie in a spiritual and loyal way due to her scars and low self-esteem.

Both girls are interested in the quilts and butter churn and other items which constitute their "history", but for different reasons.  Dee wants to put them on a wall or on a shelf to be admired as a long-lost art and part of the past, while Maggie knows how to make these items and she wants them to remember her past but also to make a present and future.  These items are part of her wedding dowry, and she is connected and grounded to the part of herself and her family heritage which created them. 

They are also alike in their tempers, although it takes much more to get Maggie angry than Dee.  Dee is used to being deferred to and getting what she wants--she is beautiful and smart, and she takes matters into her own hands when they aren't going her way (take the burning of the house she hated which scarred Maggie for instance).  Maggie is not used to getting her way since her sister was always in the limelight.  Maggie did not go to school, does not dress in colorful attention-getting African garb, and does not have a fancy boyfriend, but she does slam a door which indicates her feelings about the quilts and butter churn her sister has come to claim out fromunder Maggie's feet. The temper has flared, and Maggie gets her quilts.

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What is the relationship between Dee and Maggie in "Everyday Use"?

The most basic relationship is that they are sisters.

Dee is the older sister, Maggie the younger.

However, there is more to them than this. Dee is the star: the family member who went away. She left the family’s modest rural home, and embraced the waves of change that were moving through America. She represents a specific current of African American identity; she chooses an African heritage and a new name: “Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo.” She is proud of who she is, and of the conscious choices she’s made.

Maggie, by contrast, stayed at home. She’s quiet and shy, and scarred from the fire. She doesn’t have the same sort of pride that Dee has, but she is loyal to her lived and experienced heritage, something their mother endorses by giving her the quilt.

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What is the relationship between Dee and Maggie in "Everyday Use"?

Dee is determined and successful. She aims to be a modern woman who is worldly, cultured, and educated. When she goes to college, she learns of her African heritage and embraces it, thus supplanting her African-American heritage. Dee is progressive but her interests in modernity and cultural heritage (both African and American) seem a bit too superficial. Still, she does try to educate her mother and sister, Maggie, even if they don't want to listen. 

Maggie is Dee's younger sister. Maggie was burned in a house fire and is incredibly shy. These two traits may account for Maggie's reserved personality. She has no real interest in Dee's progressive worldview, or maybe she is just too shy to attempt to live in that world. 

Dee has tried to instruct Maggie (and her mother) in a more feminist, modern way of life for American women. So, there is something of the guiding, big sister in the way she relates to Maggie. When Dee arrives, Maggie is concerned with how she looks, so there is some part of her that looks up to Dee. But Dee also seems to flaunt her new way of life and she is condescending towards Maggie, basically calling her ignorant and backward. As Dee is leaving, she says, "You ought to try to make something of yourself, too, Maggie. It's really a new day for us. But from the way you and Mama still live you'd never know it." Deep down, Dee might have good intentions in trying to open Maggie's eyes to a new, better way of life. But her approach is too domineering and almost scolding. Maggie is too shy to talk back to her. When Dee insists on taking the quilts, Maggie "looked at her sister with something like fear but she wasn't mad at her." This look of "something like fear" is vague but suggestive. Maybe Maggie's subtle look indicates that she is fed up with the entire subject of the quilts. It is her shy way to simply relent and end the discussion. 

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What are the contrasts between Maggie and Dee in "Everyday Use"? In other words, characterize the two sisters and compare and contrast them.

Maggie and Dee differ physically, intellectually, and emotionally; they are near perfect contrasts, which is striking because they are sisters.

Mama narrates the story, and she recalls the fire that left burns down Maggie's arms and legs. Maggie shuffles as she walks, keeping her eyes on the ground and her chin on her chest. Maggie isn't attractive and plans to marry a young man with "mossy teeth." Dee, by contrast, has a "lighter" frame with more curves. She wears bright colors to draw more attention to herself and embraces fashion, wearing earrings and bracelets that are large and flashy.

Dee is the intellectually superior sister. When she was younger, she spent evenings reading aloud to her mother and sister, trying desperately to save them from being the "dimwits" she believed them to be. Mama and their church raised money to send Dee to school so that she would have a chance to achieve more than their small community could offer. Maggie, Mama says, "knows she is not bright." She lacks a quick mind, and when she reads aloud to Mama, she often stumbles along slowly. Unlike her sister, she has no quick comebacks and instead lurks in the background of family life. When Dee reappears, Maggie only manages to utter, "Uhnnnh," unable to articulate any appropriate greeting.

Maggie is devoted to Mama and to their simple way of life. She embraces their entire history and has always helped Mama with the daily routines of living. Dee, on the other hand, spent her childhood trying to distinguish herself from her origins. She hated their family home and, upon returning, wants to take the heirloom quilts as showpieces for her own home. She is not interested in the "everyday" significance of her family's history and believes that her sister is too "backward" to fully appreciate things the way she can.

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In "Everyday Use," how are Maggie and Dee similar (apart from the fact that they have the same mother)?

Two sisters, Dee and Maggie, are the focal characters in the short story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker. The two daughters are quite different in appearance and personality. Despite growing up in the same family, they live entirely different lives. Maggie is rural and follows many of her family's long-honored traditions, while Dee has chosen to leave behind her rural heritage and instead embrace African tribal traditions. 

In "Everyday Use," Walker highlights differences between the sisters as a way to develop the contrast between the life each has chosen. In comparing the sisters, it is easy to find differences between them. Maggie keeps her birth name, while Dee changes hers to Wangero. Maggie lives at home; Dee does not. Maggie has a limp, but Dee does not. Maggie has chosen to follow the traditions of her family, while Dee decides to affiliate herself with African tribal traditions instead. Maggie is content where she is; Dee is restless and seeks satisfaction outside of what her family's rural life can give her.

Though the sisters chose different life paths, the system that directed them into each of their respective roles is what they share in common. Arguably, each sister is in her current position as a result of the tumultuous social climate of the 1960s. Walker's writing about that time polarizes African-American women's options into two choices: embrace the past or forget it. The African-American community faced a wide reconsideration of its identity, and Dee and Maggie represent two directions African-American women could choose to go in that moment. The sisters are similar in that their respective lives are results of the social climate at that time. What they share is their heritage and the future they must decide to live, with or without that heritage.

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In what ways are Dee and Maggie different in "Everyday Use?" 

The short story "Everyday Use" is primarily based on the characterization of Dee, the narrator, and Maggie. Dee woks as a character foil for both Maggie and the narrator, who is the mother of the two girls.

Maggie is very timid and shy. She does not possess the looks that Dee does. "Dee is lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure." Maggie was badly burned in the fire that took their old house and has never entirely recovered. Maggie is described by her mother who says, "have you ever seen a lame animal, perhaps a dog run over by some careless person rich enough to own a car, sidle up to someone who is ignorant enough to be kind to him? That is the way my Maggie walks. She has been like this, chin on chest, eyes on ground, feet in shuffle, ever since the fire that burned the  other house to the ground."

Dee, on the other hand, is brave and outgoing. "She would always look anyone in the eye. Hesitation was no part of her nature." Dee is also very intelligent and uses this to belittle the other two characters. "She used to read to us without pity; forcing words, lies, other folks' habits, whole lives upon us two, sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice. She washed us in a river of make-believe, burned us with a lot of knowledge we didn't necessarily need to know . . . to shove us away at just the moment, like dimwits, we seemed about to understand."

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In "Everyday Use", compare the characters of Dee and Maggie.

What is vital to understanding this story is first of all identifying how Dee and Maggie differ, as your question asks, but then you must also go on to consider how Mama's relationship with both of them is different too, which is unavoidable given that the point of view is from Mama's perspective and thus all we know about her two daughters is from her point of view.

Let us start by focussing on Maggie. Consider how Maggie is introduced in the first paragraph:

Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes: She will stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eyeing her sister with a mixture of envy and awe. She think her sister has held life always in the palm of one hand, that "no" is a word the world never learned to say to her.

This quote clearly establishes some of the central differences between the two sisters. Dee is confident, outgoing, ambitious and determined to make something of life, whereas Maggie is shy, reclusive and passive. Consider how the narrator describes her daughter as a "lame animal" who sidles "up to someone who is ignorant enough to be kind to him". Maggie, described in this fashion, is clearly painted as someone who has such a low sense of self-worth that they are amazed that anyone would actually want to talk to her.

However, the narrator says of Dee, "Hesitation was no part of her nature":

She was determined to stare down any disaster in her efforts... At sixteen she had a style of her own: and knew what style was.

It is clear then that Dee is incredibly self-confident and self-assured. She, as is amply evidenced later in the story, knows what she wants and will not stand for anyone getting in her way, which makes the narrator's decision to not give into her all the more remarkable.

If you want to think about Mama, too, I will add this paragraph. One of the key events in the short story that reveals Mama's character is her refusal to give Dee what she wants, and her insistence that Maggie receives the quilts. It is clear that she loves both of her daughters, but is exasperated by both of them in different ways. However, her decision to give the quilts to Maggie rather than Dee indicates what a high value she places on the family heritage and history, of which the quilts are a symbol. Note too that this is the heritage that Dee has rejected and turned her back on.

I hope this helps you establish the opposite characters between Dee and Maggie in the story - although they are sisters they show themselves to be incredibly different, and Walker could be using them to represent, in Dee, those African Americans that have turned their backs on their family history in their attempt to embrace their African roots, and in Maggie, those African Americans who are perhaps ashamed of themselves and their history.

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Describe Dee and Maggie in "Everyday Use."

In Walker's "Everyday Use," Dee, by the time she visits Maggie and her mother, is an urban black woman and represents blacks who moved to cultural centers and became well-educated and articulate.

Maggie is rural, and represents traditional, rural black culture.  Maggie's mother is similar to Maggie. 

The story reveals these two cultures in conflict, and at the center of the conflict is the different ways the two sisters view their backgrounds and upbringings.  To Dee, the home furnishings she wants to take with her are quaint, old-fashioned, and would make nice decorative items.  She wants to display them as works of art.

Maggie, as well as the mother, in contrast, want to use the items as they were meant to be used--for everyday use. 

Of course, the mother comes down on the side of everyday use when Dee tries to take quilts intended for Maggie, and the story seems to, too.  Rural, traditional black culture has a dignity of its own. 

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