Two Sisters in “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker

Subject: Literature
Pages: 1
Words: 301
Reading time:
2 min
Study level: College

“Everyday Use” is a short story by Alice Walker, where through portraying contrasting characters, the author demonstrates diverse views on symbols of culture. Maggie and Dee are two sisters who are different from each other in so many ways. They oppose each other in appearances, personalities, and opinions on life. However, the distinction between them becomes more evident as the reader finds out about how they both feel about the artefacts that represent their heritage and culture. In order to demonstrate two conflicting ideas, Walker uses literary elements such as symbolism and irony.

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First of all, the use of symbolism seems to be obvious in the narration. Both sisters argue over the quilts that their mother and aunt stitched out of their grandmother’s clothes. While Maggie is content with using it as an everyday item, Dee sees it as something that should be treasured. She argues that her sister cannot appreciate this item, saying that “Maggie would put them on the bed and in five years they’d be rags” (Walker, 2015, p. 498). Through their views on how quilts should be used, the reader can interpret how the characters feel about their culture since this household item is a representation of their grandmother’s love and legacy.

However, the fact that Maggie uses it as an everyday object does not mean that she is ungrateful. On a similar note, Dee’ eagerness to showcase her appreciation for the quilts means that she objectifies their heritage. While Maggie honors their grandmother by using the quilts as it was meant to be, Dee wants to show it off. This is where the author uses irony, displaying that it is Dee who is actually unappreciative. In conclusion, Walker successfully uses two literary elements to demonstrate the difference between sisters and their views on embracing their culture.


Walker, Alice. Everyday Use. Pearson, 2015.