Welcome to the third Short Story of the Month!
The winters may be now saying their slow goodbye as they leave; leaving the air slightly chilly.
That kind of rosy, crisp coolness is what still makes you want to cosy up in a blanket or have a cuppa as you snuggle in your quilt.
Alice Walker’s short story, Everyday Use, would make for a beautiful read in this weather.
Yes, it is about quilts but that’s not that only thing that makes your heart feel warm.
What is the story about?
The story is about two sisters, Maggie and Dee, who are very different from each other in their thoughts and physique. Nonetheless, they both value their family heirlooms and heritage. However, they value the same things for entirely different reasons. Dee comes to visit her mother and sister, Maggie, with her husband. It is then that she asks to take certain things such as the dasher and the churn top. She even asks for the quilts that were stitched by hand out of old scraps of her grandmother’s dresses.
Dee’s mother however refuses to give her the quilts saying that she has promised them to Maggie.
The story takes a human look at the idea of heritage. While both the sisters covet their family heirlooms, they do so for entirely opposite reasons. Dee desires to have these things only to use them in her house as display pieces. She wants to do the same with the quilts. She wants to use them as wall hangings. Dee sees appreciates her heritage only for its face value. She thinks “they’re priceless,” and hence should be treated with care. She wants them only to be kept in display as if in a museum. She is condescending to Maggie’s way of thinking about these quilts, of using them on an everyday basis.
However, her mother sides with Maggie because she too would want the quilts to be used rather then kept aside. She values it for the use they provide to them. Thus, there is a sense of superficiality in Dee’s way of thinking about heritage as a mere curiosity or that you are only appreciating your heritage by preserving it and not engaging with it.
The story is an assertion of the idea of a living heritage. We see it in our everyday lives as well. Heritage and family stories do not have to be a relic of the past but can be woven in the fabric of our lives too!
Where to read it?
This is part of the series called, Short Story of the Month. Click here to find out more!