Mama is a more in-depth character than Dee and Maggie because the reader is given very descriptive attributes of her physically and mentally. However, she uses this new knowledge to look down on Maggie and Mama. Dee, who is coming home for the first time since she left for college, has indulged herself within her supposedly newfound African heritage. When the family's house burned down ten or twelve years ago, Maggie was deeply affected by the tragedy of losing her home where she grew up. She is never vain, never boastful and most certainly never selfish. To Dee, the old house defined them as poor black farmers, the descendants of sharecroppers. When the hard clay is swept clean as a floor and the fine sand around the edges lined with tiny, irregular grooves, anyone can come and sit and look up into the elm tree and wait for the breezes that never come inside the house.
There is, however, beauty in her practicality. Walker employs characterization and symbolism to highlight the difference between these interpretations and ultimately to uphold one of them, showing that culture and heritage are parts of daily life. . Despite the family being poor, the mother works hard to provide for the both of her daughters. Maggie tries to bolt for the house but Mama stops her. Mama, however, has had enough of this emotional bludgeoning, and tells Wangero to take two other quilts not intended for Maggie and leave.
Most importantly, however, Maggie is, like her mother, at home in her traditions, and she honors the memory of her ancestors; for example, she is the daughter in the family who has learned how to quilt from her grandmother. Soon after, Dee remembers the quilts made by her grandmother. Dee tells Maggie to make something of herself and ironically tells Mama that she doesn't understand her own heritage. Johnson, her two daughters Dee and Maggie. She insists that Maggie will use the quilts she desires for everyday use. Dee says that the mother does not understand her heritage.
Maggie was promised the quilts, though. Her description of herself fits the stereotype of a farmwoman who can easily do the work of a man. Wangero has a sudden interest in family heirlooms and her family history. Instead, Mama wants Maggie to have the quilt being that she always used kept the quilt to remind herself of her family. As Mama explains her situation in a matter-of-fact tone, Walker is able to paint the picture of the setting in a neutral way. In life, it is most times difficult for someone to cease an old habit.
After walking out the front door and kissing Maggie goodbye she slides them on and get the feeling that she is not only blocking out the sun but the rest of the worlds perspective on her. Mama had been raised to be wary of speaking out against inequality, instead adapting to injustice through quiet passivity. Mama breaks out of her reverie to explain the realities of her life. She is dismayed that Maggie and her mother would use the quilts everyday, despite their functionality. These are the three symbols that have a great impact towards the characters in this passage.
It is crucial that in this fantasy, Mama imagines herself as lighter - in skin tone, body weight and wit. To Dee, the quilts represent the historical significance of an oppressed people. The conflict between the two characters depict the meaning of the work which is that heritage is to be valued for both its usefulness as well as its personal significance. Maggie is shy and humble and embraces her African-American culture and heritage while her other sister Dee has a problem accepting their culture and heritage. To Dee, the narrator's oldest daughter, heritage is the past - something to frame or hang on the wall, a mere artistic, aesthetic reminder of her family history. Johnson thinks of her as a sweet person, a daughter with whom she can sing songs at church.
Mama fantasizes about the kind of reunion she might have with Dee on television. She cannot understand how they can live in such a filthy place. The differences in attitude that Dee and Maggie portray about their heritage are seen early in the story. Most African American families face the same struggle on a daily basis; the fight of choices between the strong conservative parents and the opposing liberal kids who are following the modern trend but in the midst of it are trying to hold on to their cultural heritage considering the racial pandemic that looms throughout their society. Maggie is, however, still young and Mama fails to accept that her life has possibilities. The crisis, which occurs later in the story, happens when Dee all of a sudden comes home a different person than she was when she left. Mama stands sheepishly to one side while Dee takes control of the situation.
She can kill a bull calf and have the meat hung up to chill by nightfall. Her mom, however, would never want a house to burn down because to her it represented hard work and survival. There are yellows and oranges enough to throw back the light of the sun. Walker presents Mama and Maggie, the younger daughter, as an example that heritage in both knowledge and form passes from one generation to another through a learning and experience connection. Alice Walker is defined as an author, poet, and activist. I can kill and clean a hog as mercilessly as a man. In some ways it also shows.