Conflict, Irony, and Symbolism in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”

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Conflict, Irony, and Symbolism in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”
In the short story "Everyday Use", by Alice Walker, tension between characters is evident. When Dee arrives home to visit Mama and Maggie, readers can see the differences in personality between the three characters. Dee has changed her name to "Wangero" to get closer to her so-called “culture” and is collecting many objects of her past that she did not want before. On her mother’s savings for her, Dee is able to go to college and therefore is more educated. However, she uses this new knowledge to look down on Maggie and Mama. One of the many objects of her past that Dee asks for is a quilt passed down to the females of the next generation. Instead, Mama wants Maggie to have
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As Mama says, "You know as well as me you was named after your aunt Dicie. Dicie is my sister. She named you Dee." This is a little ironic. Even the mysterious boy she brings home, Hakim-a-barber, has converts to Islamic ways but chooses only to accept certain doctrines of the religion when he refuses to eat collard greens and pork. As he says, "I accept some of their doctrines, but farming and raising cattle is not my style.” The irony is that it might not be a "style", but how Mama and Maggie have to live. They would not think of this as a style.
Finally, the story in its entirety is symbolism itself. The quilts are the main sources of symbolism are the quilts, in how each piece of the quilt tells about the life of each member of a different generation of the family. With Dee’s new attitude, how would she use the quilts? "Hang them”, she says. Like the quilts had little to no meaning to her at all. ‘Dee says that Maggie cannot understand her heritage and cannot appreciate these quilts. Magnanimously, Maggie agrees that Dee can have them so as not to start a conflict. She says, "I can 'member Grandma Dee without the quilts.” This shows that Maggie is more appreciative of her true heritage than Dee is. Dee believes “getting in touch with your roots” is a new style of some sort. Dee doesn’t consider that the very aunt who gave her, her name is the one who made the quilts by hand. She only wants it to have as art. Another thing is how Dee discards her name
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