Everyday Use Summary

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At the beginning of this story, a mother and her daughter Maggie are awaiting the arrival of the mother's other daughter, Dee, and Dee's possible new husband, who are coming for a visit. Maggie is described as a homely black woman who has burn scars all over her arms and legs. Maggie is self-conscious of her scars and tries to hide them and herself from people. Maggie views her sister Dee with both awe and envy, believing Dee has always had life go her way. The mother and daughter wait for Dee in their yard of clay. Maggie waits nervously, wishing that she could be hiding rather than be out in the open. The mother reminiscences while she waits. The mother has had recurrent dreams in which Dee, who has "made it" in life, is reunited with her mother on a television show. Dee embraces her mother with tears in her eyes and tells her she would never have made it this far if not for her mother's help. In the dream, the mother's physical appearance and personality is exactly the way she knows Dee wishes her to be: she is 100 pounds lighter, has lighter and smoother skin and beautiful hair, and is wearing a dress. In the dream, the mother is also quick-witted and able to hold her own with the TV show host, a white man. Before she even wakes up, the mother knows it's a dream. The reality is that the mother is a big-boned, heavyset woman with rough hands and a rough dark face. The mother does the hard work of a man. She wears overalls and can kill and gut a pig or bull calf as good as any man can. Her fat is useful in keeping her warm on winter days when she works outside. She has a second-grade education and, unlike her daughter Dee, doesn't have a quick tongue and avoids looking white men in the eye. Maggie, who is also in stark contrast to Dee, is a skinny black woman covered in scars. She walks with her head lowered, eyes on the ground, and shuffles her feet. Maggie's demeanor has been this way since the fire 12 years ago. Maggie does not have a pretty face. She is...
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