Family Quilts In Everyday Use By Alice Walker

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In her short story, Everyday Use, Alice Walker exhibits the perspectives of the three main characters in how they view the family’s quilts. While similar, these perspectives have a very distinct meaning for each of the characters. The quilts symbolize historical moments in each of their lives, except Dee. To her, the quilts are nothing more than fragments of outdated, useless linen. Subsequently, it is not until she transitions into Wangero that she begins to understand, or have an idea of, the significance of the family quilts. To Mama, the patches on the quilts symbolize the generations of her family’s history. Additionally, the garments represent a new beginning for Maggie, who sees the quilts as something that symbolizes her past, and a …show more content…
In particular, two specific quilts she found in a trunk, at the foot of her mother’s bed. She tenderly asks Mama if she can take the quilts with her. Her request is denied, and she is provided the opportunity to take some of the other quilts. Subsequently, Wangero makes it clear why she prefers one group of quilts over the other, as she replies, “No, I don’t want those. They are stitched around the borders by machine” (Walker 320). She is in search of something personal; something to which she feels connected, as she references the quilts being “….pieces of dress Grandma used to wear.” (Walker 320). In the beginning of the story, Dee is presented as an individual who is embarrassed of her history, as well as her family. The changing of her name is very significant, as it shows her to have now embraced who she is, and where she comes from. The quilts give Dee the chance to reconnect with something she has always been ashamed of, and even wanted to keep hidden, her …show more content…
However, she feels that she doesn’t live up to what would be Dee’s ideal mother, as she describes herself in a conscious dream she sometimes has, of an encounter with Dee, (Walker 315) “I am the way my daughter would want me to be: a hundred pounds lighter, my skin like an uncooked barley pancake.” In spite of her having these feelings, she still loves and respects her daughter, and anticipates her arrival. Mama is not completely convinced of Dee’s newly found direction, however. During a conversation with Wangero (Dee) about the quilts, she reminds herself, in a matter of fact sense, that this same person (Dee) had, in the past, saw the quilts as irrelevant. This is concluded by her reasoning within herself of a time she offered Dee one of the quilts, (Walker 320) “Then she had told me they were old fashioned, out of style.” As she goes into detail about each piece of garment stitched into the quilt, it becomes clear that, to Mama, the quilt represents an extensive family history, extending as far back as the Civil War. The quilts had already been promised to Maggie, for when she gets married, moves out, and starts a new life, so giving Dee the quilts was not part of the equation. To be fair, she does authorize Wangero to take the other quilts, to which she

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