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Everyday Use Study Questions

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Dee is selfish daughter. It is ironic how she cherishes her heritage but turns her back on it according to her actions. She has become somewhat superficial and wants to take these household items, such as the butter churner and dasher, to put on display in her home. Those items were made by hand to be useful tools in everyday life. Her idea of honoring her heritage by using these items as displays of art instead of their intended use is more like a parody of her life. Her education and flashy style and poise earn her some resentment from her mother. Dee grew up with everyone always looking up to her because she was beautiful, educated, and sociable. Dee has a sense of resentment of her upbringing and how she grew up. She thought better of herself and wanted more than just the simple things in life. She knew she deserved more than just a wooden shack with holes cut out as windows and rawhides as the drapes.

She had a sense of disdain for the poor life. She wanted the “old Dee to be dead” and the Wangero to be alive and prosperous. It is ironic how she wanted to preserve her heritage but let go of the very thing that helped to shape who she was; her name. Dee wanted to take the priceless handmade quilts home to put on a wall and hang up. She thought that would be the best way to remember her history and where she came from. However these quilts were not made for that reason, the true meaning of those qulits was using them everyday and making use of the things you had. The quilt had been made from all different sorts of fabric and by the hands of different members of the family from past generations. Dee was missing the point and could only think of her self- righteous reasons of why she was right and Mama and Magie were wrong.

Mama has resentment for Dee. Dee has the looks, smarts, and money, mama never had. Although she sacrificed for Dee to have a better life she also somewhat ostracized Dee for the way she carried herself without the hard labor evident on her face or hands, with her head held head and a nose up to those who saw her to be anything less than great. Mama wanted the best for both her girls but saw the fault and irony in Dee’s actions.

Maggie although she was mentally younger than her true age, she saw the world in a much different way. She was able to filter its beauty and ugliness and take it at face value. Despite the psychosocial horror and pain of being burned alive in her house fire, she took that experience to make her stronger inside. She learned from this experience and tried to use it positively. Maggie loved her sister and looked up to her with admiration, although her sister saw her as “simple”, Maggie did not want to be the reason her sister was unhappy. In essence “she turned the other cheek” so that Dee could have the blankets. Mama after seeing this in Maggie, realized that she needed to stand by her word, and show Maggie that she was worth something and deserved to have a piece of family history . whether she used it as an art display or put to everyday use as was intended.

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