Everyday Use

What does Dee say or do that reflects a growing interest in preserving her heritage? How is the butter churn used to contrast Dee’s relationship with her heritage with Maggie’s? Is there anything ironic about Dee’s connection to her heritage? ​

Everyday Use by Alice Walker
What does Dee say or do that reflects a growing interest in preserving her heritage? How is the butter churn used to contrast Dee’s relationship with her heritage with Maggie’s? Is there anything ironic about Dee’s connection to her heritage? ​

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Dee walks into her mother's house like it's a museum ready to give up its artifacts to a new curator. From the moment she sits down, it's all about what she wants...... the things she wants for show...... not for use.

"Oh, Mama!" she cried. Then turned to Hakim.a.barber. "I never knew how lovely these benches are. You can feel the rump prints," she said, running her hands underneath her and along the bench. Then she gave a sigh and her hand closed over Grandma Dee's butter dish. "That's it!" she said. "I knew there was something I wanted to ask you if I could have." She jumped up from the table and went over in the corner where the churn stood, the milk in it crabber by now. She looked at the churn and looked at it.

"This churn top is what I need," she said. "Didn't Uncle Buddy whittle it out of a tree you all used to have?"

"Yes," I said.

"Un huh," she said happily. "And I want the dasher, too."

"Uncle Buddy whittle that, too?" asked the barber.

Dee (Wangero) looked up at me.

"Aunt Dee's first husband whittled the dash," said Maggie so low you almost couldn't hear her. "His name was Henry, but they called him Stash."

From the above interaction, we can see that Dee wants the items, but Maggie understands the whys and hows. Maggie talks about the people.... Dee talks about the things.

Irony can be found in Dee's desire to obtain the things that mark her family's past, but distances herself from that same past by changing her name and distanicing herself from the reality.

"Maggie's brain is like an elephant's," Wangero said, laughing. "I can use the chute top as a centerpiece for the alcove table," she said, sliding a plate over the chute, "and I'll think of something artistic to do with the dasher."

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Everyday Use