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What Was Dee’s Reason For Returning Home?

Alice Walker’s, Everyday Use (For Your Grandmama), was about a black mother and her two daughters named Dee and Maggie. Between the sisters, it seemed Dee was the selfish one, and as a result, received whatever she desired. Since she was more educated than her mother and sister, it may have given her a feeling of superiority. She seemed ashamed of where she had come from. A home should be a restful and congenial place. For Dee, home had a different meaning. She told her mother, “....no matter where they ‘choose’ to live, she will manage to come see them. But she will never bring her friends”(7). One is led to believe that although Dee would never completely neglect her family by staying away, she was ashamed to have her friends see their living conditions. Surprisingly, when Dee came home for a visit, she had brought a male friend with her. While visiting, Dee asked to take some of her family’s heirlooms and prized keepsakes back home with her. Her desire to have the heirlooms suggested that maybe Dee had learned about the value of old keepsakes and wanted them for herself.

Upon Dee’s arrival home, not only did she bring a friend along, she also took several pictures of her mother and sister in front of the house she had been ashamed to have her friends see. The family had lost the old house due to a fire before Dee left for school. Since she did not like the other house at all, her mother just knew that she would not like this one, either. It was surprising to have her continue snapping pictures that included the house. “When a cow comes nibbling around the edge of the yard she snaps it and me and Maggie and the house”(7). It seemed very important to include the house in the pictures. What was the significance of the house? Was she taking the pictures to remember her family or had she discovered that there was value in the setting.

As the day went on, Dee began admiring handmade furniture done by some of her family members. The pieces were made from trees that were originally in their yard. She was fascinated by the benches made by her dad that were still being used. She could feel the “rump” prints from people sitting on them over the years. After noticing the churn, Dee told her mother, “I can use the churn top as a centerpiece for the alcove table.... and I’ll think of something artistic to do with the dasher”(74). All of a sudden furniture that she had seen her whole life had become of interest and necessary for her to own. It was difficult to know whether or not she was being sincere about using it for that purpose, or for other reasons. Not only did she want those items, she also wanted quilts. She now wanted the same quilts her mother had offered her before she went to school. She wanted the same quilts she had said were old-fashioned and out of style.

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Dee was still used to getting her way and was getting quite upset at the fact that her mother was not going to let her have the quilts. Her mother had promised to give the quilts to Maggie when she got married. Dee was just totally convinced that Maggie did not deserve and could not appreciate the quilts as she could. She felt that Maggie would be backwards enough to put the quilts to everyday use. Dee told her mother furiously, “But they’re priceless! Maggie would put them on the bed and in five years they’d be in rags”(75). Normally people use quilts on their bed, but Dee had another idea for these quilts. She mentioned hanging these “old-fashioned” and “out of style” quilts on her wall, but since they may have been priceless, the reader may believe she had something else in mind.

Dee later said to her mother with hatred, “You just will not understand. The point is these quilts, these quilts”(75)! It is obvious that Dee knows something, and she needs the quilts to complete her plan. It is hard to imagine that someone who wanted nothing to do with her family’s heritage and their way of life suddenly becomes interested in everything about her family, especially the heirlooms. Since the heirlooms were old and rich with heritage, Dee knew they were very valuable. This leaves the reader to speculate that her motive was strictly for their monetary value.

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