The short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker. Write an essay describing and interpreting Dee’s Attitude toward the quilts in “everyday use”

Dee’s Biased Attitude towards the Quilts in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”
Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” is an exciting read for many reasons but more
prominently for two particular perspectives. On one hand it looks at the dynamic relationship
between a mother and her daughters, Dee and Maggie, who portray conflicting attitudes towards
both cultural heritage and family. On another hand, it also depicts the misguided and apparent
pride caused by the civil rights movement and modern influences. A perfect example can be seen
in their attitudes towards the quilts. Dee stands out especially for attitudes towards her culture,
particularly portraying a biased attitude towards the quilts, one that is influenced by being away
from her family and the civil rights movement. In essence, she has no real knowledge of the
inherent importance of the quilts but believes they should be preserved and protected in an
exercise that only relegates them to mere objects of display.
To understand Dee’s biased attitude towards the quilt it is important to foremost realize
their significance. Quilts are presented as an important part of the African American Woman’s
heritage. They represent their skills, creativity, and resourcefulness. For instance, Dee’s
grandmother employed different materials, including reusing some to create both functional and
amazing items. Besides this, quilts in the story are also a significant part of the family’s heritage.
Quilts in the family are represented by different things including those belonging to relatives
such as dresses belonging to Dee’s grandmother, paisley shirts belonging to her grandfather and
civil war uniform belonging to her great grandfather Ezra. Based on these revelations, one

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realizes that quilts are an important part of Dee’s culture and family heritage that to a great
extent enables their continuity.
Considering the above, it is evident that quilts should be embraced as part of Dee’s
culture and even more, one should show both knowledge and expertise as part of ensuring their
continuity. However, guided by a sense of awakening, one encouraged by the modern world and
the civil rights movement, Dee demonstrates a poor attitude towards the quilts, one that is close
to cultural appropriation and attempts to water down the significance of the materials. Majorly,
she decries that the preservation of the quilts is paramount, a position that is influenced by black
nationalism and the civil rights movement. While previously she hated her background, these
two constructs have guided her to embrace her cultural heritage going as far as changing her
generational name to Wangero. While her sister Maggie agrees to Dee’s persistent request, their
mother refuses, grabbing the quilts and handing them over to Maggie. This is because she
believes Dee lacks a clear understanding of the importance of their importance. While Dee
intends to hang them on the wall, the quilts are better preserved when practiced, allowing their

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