Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Everyday Use" by Alice Walker

4. Does the mother's refusal to let Dee have the quilts indicate a permanent or temporary change of character? Why has she never done anything like it before? Why does she do it now? What details in the story prepare for and foreshadow that refusal?

I think that the mother's refusal in allowing Dee to have the quilts indicates a permanent change in her character. Because she had never previously responded to Dee that way, I think it marked a significant change in her attitude towards her and will affect how she reacts to her from here on out. Before taking the quilts away from Dee, she said that "something hit [her] in the top of [her] head and ran down to the soles of [her] feet" (page 181) which caused her to snatch them back. I think what "hit" her was the realization that Dee did not deserve the quilts and would never fully appreciate them the way Maggie would. Although it never says why Maggie and Dee were treated differently throughout childhood, I got the feeling that Maggie was sort of the neglected child. Dee was outgoing and strong-willed so she got her way most of the time. She had grown used to getting what she wanted, and refusal was not something she was familiar with. A detail that foreshadowed this event happening was when the mother thought back to when she "had offered Dee (Wangero) a quilt when she went away to college. Then she had told me they were old-fashioned, out of style". This brief insight into the mother's thoughts shows that she did not appreciate Dee's criticism of the quilts and how she suddenly expected to be able to take anything she wanted from their home the moment she came back to visit.

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