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everyday use

In “Everyday Use” explain the difference between intellectualism and experience?


In the story, the conflict between intellectualism vs. experience is represented through the contrasting characters of the sisters Dee and Maggie. You could also place Mama, the narrator, alongside Maggie in the experience column.

"Everyday Use" revolves around the return home of Dee, Mama's daughter who has gone off to college and has come back educated and in search of the family quilts. Dee appreciates their craftsmanship and wants to display them as art objects. Her education has also led her to change her name to "Wangero" because she sees the name "Dee," a family name, as an outdated remnant of slavery, when masters named their slaves. Dee insists that she knows better than Mama and Maggie what the best "use" for these quilts will be. She scoffs at her sister for thinking the quilts should be put "to everyday use."

Maggie, on the other hand, was badly burned in a house fire and is extremely shy and introverted. She has stayed home with Mama and lived a domestic life. She has taken up the craft of quilt-making, as well. Maggie, then, has the "experience" of making and using the quilts, while her sister Dee only wants to admire their aesthetic quality. Mama, also on the side of experience, argues that Maggie should have the quilts, that she is more deserving of these symbolic objects. In the end, experience is placed above intellectualism in "Everyday Use."

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