One Symbol from “Everyday Use”

Alice Walker uses many symbols in “Everyday Use” such as a butter churn, Dee’s name, a yard and an imaginary TV show.  However, the quilt is the most important symbol in this short story because it is related to the title. The quit, handed down from Grandma Dee and Big Dee, is unique and different from other quilts.  Dee wants have the quilt because “[Grandma] did all this stitching by hand.”(Walker 65) Dee believes that she is the only person who can understand and appreciate the value of the quilt, the family heritage, among the family.  She says “[Maggie] would probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use.” (Walker 66) There is a one symbol, the quilt, and the two sisters have different views about how to appreciate and protect it. Dee wants to protect the quilt from “everyday use” because she thinks that the quilt contains the African-American heritage. Dee puts the quilt, the family or African-American heritage, before her family, but Maggie thinks the quilt is just another quilt and appreciates the quilt in a different way. She can feel and enjoy her heritage in her everyday life. She belongs to the family heritage and lives in it. She is willing to give up the quilt because “[She] can ‘member Grandma Dee without the quilts.” (Walker 66) Dee wants to protect the symbol of family heritage to hang it on the wall. However, she wants to stay out of her family life. She wants to appreciate the heritage as if she is an observer in the history museum. Alice Walker uses the quilt, one of many symbols in this story, to show different ways of appreciating the heritage.


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