The entire story revolves around one day when Dee, the older daughter, visits from school after a long time and a quarrel between them regarding some heirloom possessions of the family. The conflict mirrors the varying ideas of the characters about their identity and heritage. All through the story, Dee is restless and holds firm to her ideology of rejecting her own heritage. For instance, while at dinner she decides that she wants the butter churn, she proves to have value for her heritage as she knew that it was her uncle who carved it from a tree they once used to have. She however wants the churn for a purpose that it is not intended for: she declares that she wants to use it for decoration only. Another example is when she admires the quilts Mama has. She says that she wanted them because of the clothing generations and the efforts made to make the quilt. She however at some point shows disrespect to the heritage when she changes her name from â€œDeeâ€ to Wangero Leewamika Kemanjo because â€œDeeâ€ was a renowned family name that had some covert significance.
Conflict, Climax and Resolution
In the short story, the major conflict is seems to be over which among the two daughters, Dee and Maggie will get the quilt. The covert conflict is the competition for the mother’s love between the two daughters since quilt is used symbolically to represent love of the mother and acceptance for the child and the importance of the mutual relationship. This follows the perception that the entire story is about two daughters. One daughter, Dee, is educated and much intelligent than the other. She went off college and has become so successful. Though she lives in a distance town, her mother is ever proud of her and brags about her daughter’s achievements. When she finally comes to visit her, she gets so excited. On the other hand, the second daughter is simple and shy. She has scars all over her arms and legs, something that makes her seem worthless when compared with the other sister. She also disregards herself and she shows nervousness when she gets aware of Dee’s visit.
When Dee visits, she sees the quilt; it looks quite old but somewhat beautiful. To her, it symbolizes the family heritage, though it can also be said to symbolize materialism. She requests her mother to give it to her so that she could use it as a decoration in her home by hanging it at the wall. This is the point that the climax of the story is presented as the mother is confused who among the two daughters she should give the quilt. It is important to note that quilts have become fashionable things to possess in one’s home. A resolution is reached when the mother finally decides to give the quilt to the shy daughter who lives with her. Dee complains that the quilt will only be used and get spoilt, whereas she would have provided it with protection after hanging it on the wall. The mother however explains that the quilt was meant for everyday use and she wanted it to act as a cover for her child. By giving the quilt to the shy daughter, she heightens the daughter’s self-regard.
An Analysis of the Characters
The mother in the story is the narrator of the story and also acts as the protagonist. She vocalizes the story and everything in the story is seen from her point of view. She is the most significant character who decides who among the two daughters should get the quilt. She is wise as illustrated by her decision to give the quilt to her daughter who seems to understand its use. She is also caring as shown by the love and protection she has given to her both children and particularly Maggie despite her condition. I am convinced that the story is bent to emphasize on the importance of being available and ready to help when one’s friend is needy. I also understand that disregarding one’s heritage is a serious offence that can ruin one’s esteemed reputation. The fact that the mother understands that one’s heritage should not be despised makes her appear ethical unlike her daughter, Dee, who even drops her family name at the expense of foreign names. This makes all her actions unethical. She seems to be blinded by her education that she needs her family, her mother and her sister. She is self-centered and she wants everything to revolve around her as she disregards her sister and regards her as irresponsible.