"Everyday Use" by Alice Walker Comparison of the values held by the three main characters.

Essay by riofan40University, Bachelor'sA+, April 2004

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In the short story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker the family quilt is used as a symbol of the values that each family member holds dear. To Maggie the quilt is just another thing she has to give up. To Dee the quilt is a symbol of rising above her poor past. To their mother the quilt is symbolic of the roots of her family.

The oldest daughter, Dee values her friend's approval. While she is growing up she doesn't have many friends. In fact when her mother mentions this, Maggie makes the comment, "Mama, when did Dee ever have any friends?" (91) Now that Dee has made some friends at school she wants to impress them by displaying her African heritage. This is obvious by the clothing she wears, from her traditional African dress, which is long and bright yellow and orange, to her gold earrings and dangling bracelets.

Even her hair is styled in an ethnic hairstyle. Dee has chosen a new African name, Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo, and greets her family using a Black Muslim greeting. These are the type of things that black women in the 70's commonly did as a way of contributing in some small way to the civil rights movement. She rejects her family name because she doesn't like "being named after the people who oppress me." (92) She wants to have the family artifacts as a way of showing off to, and fitting in with, her new friends. When her mother asks her what she will do with the quilts Dee replies, "Hang them." (94) To which her mother comments, "as if that was the only thing you could do with quilts." (94) Dee has made a better life for herself and wants her friends to see how far she has risen above...