Everyday Use

This Week’s Writing Prompt

Maggie can’t have these quilts!” Dee said. “She’d probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use.” 

“I reckon she would,” I said. “God knows I been saving ‘em for long enough with nobody using ‘em. I hope she will!” 

“But they’re priceless!” 

“Well,” I said, stumped. “What would you do with them?” 

“Hang them,” she said, as if that was the only thing you could do with quilts. 

 —Excerpt fromEveryday Use, Alice Walker 

In Alice Walker’s short story, Everyday Use,, a mother and daughter are debating the best way to honor priceless family heirlooms—quilts that were pieced together and sewn by several generations of women. They used fabric scraps from Grandma’s dresses, Grandpa’s shirts, and even a teeny faded piece of Great-Grandpa’s Civil War uniform. Each square in the pattern held a bit of history and told some of their stories. 

Should the quilts be safely stored in a hope chest? Hung up and displayed? Laid across a bed and snuggled under day after day? Which method most honors the quilts’ history? 

What about you? Do you have a sacred family heirloom or a special object that was passed down to you?  

      • Describe it in detail and why it is so valuable to you and your family.  
      • What was done with it before you received it?  
      • What have you done with the item since receiving it?  
      • Create a short dialogue depicting a discussion between family members about how to use or preserve this object. 
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