Questions to be asking during your initial reading of the story
(1) Roughly where and when are we to imagine the action of this story taking place? What are some of the features of the story that we might find more understandable if we take this context into account?
(2) How would you characterize the narrative point of view of this story?
(3) What do you take to be the central conflict in the story?
Follow-up: what seem to be the deeper issues at stake in this conflict?
(4) At which precise moment does the title concept come into play?
(5) What moment best qualifies as the story's climax?
Follow-up (5a): How does noticing this help us decide whether the author has structured the story so as to cast the older daughter, or her mother, as the story's protagonist?
Follow-up (5b): what are some of the deeper issues at stake in this moment?
Do not read further in this study guide until you have finished your initial reading of the story.
Questions to keep in mind during your second reading of the story
(1) On reflection, does is the narrator of this story qualify as reliable, or unreliable?
What important facts of the story should the reader take into account in arriving at a conclusion on this issue?
(2) Dee and Maggie are not just different, but systematically different. Walker has constructed them to function as foils to each other. How is this so in terms of
(3) In how many ways would the story have been less rich than it is if Walker had chosen substitute blankets for quilts?
(4) What exactly do we figure Dee has in mind when she uses the concept of "everyday use"?
Follow-up (4a): When we think about the everyday uses to which Maggie will put the quilts, when she's raising a family, are there some that don't probably come to mind under Dee's conception of "everyday use"?
Follow-up (4b): As Dee poses the alternatives, "everyday use" is opposed to what?
There is an alternative study guide to this story. You might find it more useful, or not.
Check out a possible writing assignment on this story.
Contents copyright © 2003 by Lyman A. Baker.
Permission is granted for non-commercial educational use; all other rights reserved.This page last updated 13 Mar 2003 .