The text “Everyday Use” is a short story written by Alice Walker, from 1967. The story is about an African-American family, a mom and her two daughters.
Maggie, the youngest daughter, is a nervous young girl and a bit of shy. “»How do I look, Mama?« Maggie says […] almost hidden by the door.” (p.10, m). The narrative, the mother, talks about the way Maggie walks. “Have you ever seen a lame animal, […] that is the way my Maggie walks.” (p. 10 m). The fire had given her scars, not only physical but also psychological. The physical scars on Maggie’s arm and legs make her feel less attractive. She looks up to her sister, Dee, even they haven’t much in case. After the mother has given the quilts to Maggie, she just sits there and smiles a real smile; there she knows that she has deserved the quilts.
Dee, the oldest daughter, is opposed to Maggie; she’s almost perfect, she is good looking with nice hair and a beautiful figure. “Dee ...view middle of the document...
“She never takes a shot […] and kisses me on the forehead.” (p. 12, b). It seems like she has missed them and wants some memories, for when she has moved on in her life. Dee has changed her name to Wangero, because she wouldn’t be called Dee any longer. “»Well.« I said. […] Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo«“ (p. 13, t). Dee wants to look forward and move on. She just wants to be her own person and not associated with someone from her past. Dee wants some quilts her mother has from the grandmother. “»Mama.« Wangero said sweet as a bird. »Can I have these old quilts?« “ (p. 15, t). But Dee just wants them hanging on her wall.
Dee and Maggie’s relationship is a bit tense. Maggie is the shy little sister who envies Dee, the perfect young woman.
Dee write to her mother that she would come home on visit wherever they live, but she wouldn’t bring some friends. “She wrote me once […] But she will never bring her friends.” (p.11, b). Dee is a bit ashamed over her family, but when she comes home she takes pictures of her mother, sister and the house. She even kisses her mother; it is like she has missed her. When the mother gave the quilts to Maggie, it’s like Dee being insulted.
The mother and her youngest daughter Maggie is close to each other, they are a bit similar. Maggie and her mother are not financially well off, but they are happy for the way they live, they have learned to appreciate the small things in life. For Maggie has the quilts a meaning, it isn’t just some clothes sew together, but much more. “»She can have them, Mama« […] »I can ‘member Grandma Dee without the quilts«” (p. 15, b). It tells us that Maggie wants the quilt because it’s a part of her and her past and not to remember the grandmother.
Maggie wants to put the quilts to “everyday use”, and it shows that she doesn’t care how priceless they are, she just wants them because it’s the background of these quilts there means something. She doesn’t want to have them hanging on the wall, but use them. She is the person who gets the quilt, because she understands the true meaning of the heritage. The mother wants the quilts to be used.
Dee will live on as a married woman, the mother will continue to live in peace, while Maggie will lead the quilts on.