Everyday Use Short Summary
Everyday Use is a short story by Alice Walker. The story was published in 1973 together with others as part of a collection called In Love and Trouble. It is told in the first person from the view of “Mama,” who is African American and mother to two daughters – Dee and Maggie.
A Quick Plot Overview
The story begins with Mama, waiting for the arrival of Dee, her eldest of the daughters. She stands next to Maggie, who is shy and has burn marks on her body. As they await the arrival, the reader is given a background to the life of Mama and how she and Dee grew distant. Dee was smart and driven and wanted to get more out of life than Mama, and her ancestry had to offer. All of it came at the expense of Maggie and Mama.
Dee arrives with Hakim, a barber, whom we learn is her boyfriend. Dee also goes by a new name, “Wangero” and wants her family to use it. Dee is more interested in gathering artifacts from her family than connecting with them. Hence, they go through the possessions of Mama in their search for some authentic items of her African American descent, which she aims at using to spruce up her house. Dee is somewhat rude and condescending when talking to Mama and Maggie and drops indirect insults all in the name of some chit chat.
She gets to some quilts that were meant for her younger sister, and Dee wants them for herself. This results in Dee lashing out at Mama, claiming that she deserves the quits more. Mama gives ‘Wangero’ two different quilts and asks her to leave. While leaving, Dee is condescending to her sister and mother. After she is done, she gets into the car with Hakim, and they drive off, leaving a cloud of dust.