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Everyday use

             Everyday Use contrasts two generations to define a lost heritage. Dee, who is home from college, decides that she has a sudden interest in her ancestry. Dee comes home to her mother and her sister, Maggie. The mother has a very realistic and objective view of herself. She admits that she is a large, big- boned woman with hands of a man. She offers the reader a very lengthy, and seemingly, derogatory account of herself. The mother does, however, admit that she would like to be thinner. The mother's wish to be more attractive is only to satisfy her visiting daughter, Dee. Dee's mother, when talking about her fantasy of being on television, even says that, " I am the way my daughter wants me to be: a hundred pounds lighter, my skin like an uncooked barley pancake" (562-63). When Dee arrives the mother and Maggie seem to get nervous and treat Dee as if she were just another visitor. When Dee asks her mother for the quilt, Maggie and her mother are nervous and afraid to refuse. The ironic part is that Dee wants to display the quilt to reflect her heritage. Dee does not seem to have any respect for this newly discovered heritage, however. The quilt is, indeed, a true symbol of their heritage. Every generation has owned the quilt and added on to it, adding character and significance. The reader soon learns that the mother had promised to give the quilt to Maggie. Dee accuses Maggie of being, "backward enough to put them to everyday use" (567). It seems that artifacts such as the quilt have become fashionable, as well as the idea of valued heritage. The mother observes that she had offered the quilt to Dee when she left for college, but Dee did not want the quilt then. Now, Dee comes back home saying that the quilt is priceless! The irony of the whole situation is that Dee accuses Maggie and her mother of not understanding their heritage. The reader knows that Dee is the one who has no understanding of heritage.

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