Everyday Use

Maggie Character Analysis

Maggie, Mama’s younger daughter and Dee’s sister, is a timid, nervous, kind-hearted young woman. Compared to Dee, she is less intelligent and less beautiful, and has not received the education her sister has. Maggie suffers from a burn scar on her face, the result of a traumatic house fire several years before. Unlike her sister, Maggie has a close relationship with her mother. At the beginning of the story, Maggie seems anxious about Dee’s visit, asking Mama how her clothes suit her. When Dee insists on taking the family quilts, Mama decides to give them to Maggie instead, because she thinks Maggie will appreciate them better.

Maggie Quotes in Everyday Use

The Everyday Use quotes below are all either spoken by Maggie or refer to Maggie. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Heritage and the Everyday Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harcourt edition of Everyday Use published in 2001.
Everyday Use Quotes

How long ago was it the house burned? Ten, twelve years? Sometimes I can still hear the flames and feel Maggie’s arms sticking to me, her hair smoking and her dress falling off her in little black papery flakes. Her eyes seemed stretched open, blazed open by the flames reflected in them. And Dee…Why don’t you dance around the ashes? I’d wanted to ask her. She had hated that house so much.

Related Characters: Mama (speaker), Dee, Maggie
Page Number: 49-50
Explanation and Analysis:
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She used to read to us without pity; forcing words, lies, other folks’ habits, whole lives upon us two, sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice. She washed us in a river of make-believe, burned us with a lot of knowledge we didn’t necessarily need to know. Pressed us to her with the serious way she read, to shove us away at just the moment, like dimwits, we seemed about to understand.

Related Characters: Mama (speaker), Dee, Maggie
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

She stoops down quickly and lines up picture after picture of me sitting there in front of the house with Maggie cowering behind me. She never takes a shot without making sure the house is included. When a cow comes nibbling around the edge of the yard she snaps it and me and Maggie and the house.

Related Characters: Mama (speaker), Dee, Maggie
Related Symbols: The House
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Maggie can’t appreciate those quilts! ...She’s probably backward enough to put them into everyday use.

Related Characters: Dee (speaker), Mama, Maggie
Related Symbols: Quilts
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

‘You just don’t understand,’ she said, as Maggie and I came out to the car.
‘What don’t I understand?’ I wanted to know.
‘Your heritage,’ she said.

Related Characters: Mama (speaker), Dee (speaker), Maggie
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Maggie Character Timeline in Everyday Use

The timeline below shows where the character Maggie appears in Everyday Use. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Everyday Use
Heritage and the Everyday Theme Icon
Objects, Symbolism, and Writing Theme Icon
...like a living room, with the ground swept clean like a floor. Mama’s younger daughter, Maggie, is also waiting for Dee. Mama describes Maggie as “homely,” “hopeless,” and “ashamed,” and predicts... (full context)
Education Theme Icon
Maggie, Mama’s younger daughter, interrupts Mama’s musings, asking her mother how she looks in her pink... (full context)
Heritage and the Everyday Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Objects, Symbolism, and Writing Theme Icon
Mama notes that Maggie’s submissiveness first became a problem after their old house burned down. She wonders how long... (full context)
Education Theme Icon
...wasn’t only the house Dee hated. Mama remembers how, as a child, Dee also hated Maggie. Once Mama and their church raised money for Dee’s education, however, Dee’s resentment lessened. Still,... (full context)
Education Theme Icon
Racism, Resistance, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...she contrasts herself with Dee, whose education allows her to be critical of her environment. Maggie, unlike her mother, is literate, and reads to Mama in their spare time, but she... (full context)
Objects, Symbolism, and Writing Theme Icon
...married or not), Hakim-a-Barber, arrive at the house. As they pull up in their car, Maggie tries to retreat into the house, but Mama stops her. Dee steps out of the... (full context)
Objects, Symbolism, and Writing Theme Icon
Racism, Resistance, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...saying “Wa-su-zo Tean-o!” Hakim-a-barber follows suit, saying “Asalamakim” (an Arabic greeting). He tries to hug Maggie and, in doing so, startles her. (full context)
Heritage and the Everyday Theme Icon
Objects, Symbolism, and Writing Theme Icon
After they say hello, Dee retrieves a camera from her car and takes pictures of Maggie and Mama with their house. She makes sure to photograph Mama and Maggie together with... (full context)
Heritage and the Everyday Theme Icon
Objects, Symbolism, and Writing Theme Icon
...Buddy. Dee asks for the dasher as well, which she believes Uncle Buddy also whittled. Maggie, however, knows better, and gently corrects Dee, saying it was Aunt Dee’s first husband, Stash,... (full context)
Heritage and the Everyday Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Objects, Symbolism, and Writing Theme Icon
...that she cannot give her the quilts because she promised to give the quilts to Maggie for her marriage to John Thomas, a local man. Dee, affronted, argues that Maggie can’t... (full context)
Heritage and the Everyday Theme Icon
Objects, Symbolism, and Writing Theme Icon
Unwillingly to back down, Dee argues that, by using them as blankets, Maggie would wear the quilts out in five years. Mama, however, shrugs Dee’s point off, saying... (full context)
Objects, Symbolism, and Writing Theme Icon
Racism, Resistance, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Maggie comes and stands by the door. She tells Mama that Dee can have the quilts,... (full context)
Heritage and the Everyday Theme Icon
Objects, Symbolism, and Writing Theme Icon
Racism, Resistance, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Mama thinks hard, looking at Maggie, taking in her snuff-filled lip, her burn-scarred hands hidden in the folds of her too-big... (full context)
Heritage and the Everyday Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Dee, enraged, exits the house and walks towards her car. As Maggie and Mama follow her, Dee turns and tells them they don’t understand their “heritage.” (full context)
Education Theme Icon
Objects, Symbolism, and Writing Theme Icon
Racism, Resistance, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Dee then kisses Maggie goodbye and tells her she “ought to try and make something” of herself, since it’s... (full context)
Heritage and the Everyday Theme Icon
Objects, Symbolism, and Writing Theme Icon
Mama and Maggie watch Dee’s car pull away. Then the two of them sit in the front of... (full context)