Everyday Use Final “Everyday Use” is a focus on the bonds between women of separate generations and their legacies, as symbolized by the quilts they fashion together. The connection between these women is strong, but the bonds are proven to be vulnerable as shown by the arrival of Dee, who shows a lack of understanding of her heritage. The relationship between the Mother and Aunt Dicie, the makers of the quilt, is completely different from the relationship between Maggie and Dee, sisters who rarely speak and who have nothing in common. Dee does not recognize the legacy of her name being passed down from generation to generation; therefore, she has trouble recognizing the significance of the quilts, which contain clothes worn by her ancestors. The quilts are essentially pieces of living history, showing the struggles that previous ancestors faced; such as war and poverty. The quilts are a symbol of the families’ struggles and pride. With the limitations that poverty and lack of education placed on her life, Mama considers her personal history one of her few treasures. Mama’s house contains the work of her ancestors, and receives the quilts instead of financial inheritance. For Mama, these quilts and handiworks have a value that Dee, despite her claim of her desire to preserve and care for the quilts, is unable to fathom. These quilts are made up of daily life, from materials that had been lived in. The main theme in “Everyday Use” is that the supporting and maintenance of heritage is essential to each cultural group’s self- identification, but that it also must be a part of everyday use.
The quilts are main symbols and are representations of ties to heritage/family. Dee does not understand the meaning of the quilts to her family, but would rather use them as a decorator. When asked what she was going to do with them, she simply stated, “Hang them.” It is quite ironic, Dee complains that Maggie does not understand her heritage and cannot appreciate the quilts, but in actuality it is Dee that does not understand the significance of the quilts. However, Maggie decides to let Dee have the quilts as to not start a conflict. Each time Maggie uses the quilts she is showing her