Why are Maggie and Dee estranged
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Dee has driven Mama to having to defend her own dignity. At one point in the story, Mama is remembering earlier days when Dee would return from boarding school in Augusta and patronize her and Maggie with stories of other people and knowledge beyond the scope of their experience. Should Mama or Maggie begin to grasp what she was talking about, Dee would “shove us away at just the moment like dimwits". Instead of celebrating Dee’s keen intellect, both, Mama and Maggie felt only intimidation and anxiety. Dee has since drifted away both physically and emotionally. When Dee does visit, she perpetuates the sense of otherness she has created between her and her family.
She used to read to us without pity; forcing words, lies, other folks’ habits, whole lives upon us two, sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice. She washed us in a river of make-believe, burned us with a lot of knowledge we didn’t necessarily need to know.