Mama, the narrator of the story, is big boned, stronger than most men, and mild tempered. There is a quiet sincerity about Mama that earns her the reader’s respect early in her narrative. She is loving, forgiving, independent and frank.
Maggie is Mama's skittish younger daughter. Maggie was scarred in a house fire as a child, and is self-conscious about her burns. She has always shuffled around in the shadows of her garish big sister, Dee. Living and working with her mother on the farm, Maggie is a deferential and innocent young woman who has yet to come into her own.
Dee’s persona is loud, garish, and judgmental. She operates under the guise of “Black Pride” and a return to pre-slavery identity that was popular with many black college students in the 1960’s. Dee’s colorful attire and insistence she be called "Wangero" seems forced and without nuance. Her appreciation of "everyday" objects like the butter churn or quilts lies not in their practical usage, but in the heritage she seeks to reclaim as an artifact rather than a way of life.
Dee's Muslim boyfriend (possibly husband), whom Mama refers to as "Asalamalakim". He is short and stocky, with long hair. Hakim-a-barber's role is primarily to help Dee legitimize her new identity.
Everyday Use Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Everyday Use is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
The character of Dee is full of irony. Dee objectifies and exploits her own culture. She is, for example, dismayed that Maggie and her mother would use the quilts everyday, despite their functionality. Dee views the quilts as remnants of a...