The Century Quilt Poem Essay Sample

Waniek’s “The Century Quilt” not only illustrates the importance that her Meema’s quilt had in her life but also represents her family, specifically her grandmother. Through many literary devices such as vivid imagery, symbolism, and structure, the author is able to create not only a reminiscent tone, but also depict how Waniek is hopeful for the future.

The poem’s structure is a vital part when creating the complex meanings of the quilt. In the first Stanza, the writer’s nostalgic tone brings forth the significance her grandmother’s blanket had on her. Waniek writes that she fell “in love with Meema’s Indian blanket,” (1-2). With these lines, Waniek depicts how she discovered the significance a quilt could have on her life. “Now I have found a quilt” (13) Waniek writes in her second stanza. This line is necessary to create the present tense Waniek needs in order to be optimistic about the future. In the third stanza, Waniek is not only reminiscent but also wishful that her experience with her new quilt will shadow her grandmother’s.

Symbolism is a major technique that the author uses to get the meaning of the quilt across to the reader. In every stanza, Waniek likens the quilt to her family in order to describe how much the quilt reminded her of them. To her, her grandmother’s quilt reminded her of her childhood. She describes how she remembered “play[ing] in its folds and be chieftains and princesses” (11-12). She uses these lines to demonstrate how the quilt represented her youthful and energetic days with her sister. In the second stanza she compares one of her new quilt’s squares to “the yellowbrown of mama’s cheeks” (17) to illustrate how the quilt symbolizes the racial diversity of her family.

In the third stanza Waniek expects to have “good dreams for a hundred years under the quilt” (21-23) as her grandmother must have had under her quilt. This stanza again alludes back to her grandmother and the dreams she must have had under her quilt. Waniek considers the things she may dream of when she wrote “perhaps I’d meet my son or other child, as yet unconceived” (42-43). These lines are again alluding to her family specifically to her sons. Her quilt symbolizes every member of her family but specifically her grandmother who introduced her to the love one could have for a quilt.

Waniek uses vivid color imagery in her poem. In the first stanza Waniek writes that she “fell asleep under army green” (2-3) a relatively dull color. Then her grandmother came to live with her and brought a lively and colorful quilt that Waniek “planned to inherit” (9). In the second stanza Waniek writes that in her new quilt “each square holds a sweet gum leaf whose fingers [she] imagined would caress [her] into silence” (18-20). This paints a vivid image of her new quilt gently putting her asleep while also personifying the quilt. Waniek writes of her father’s “burnt umber pride” (39) and her mother’s “ochre gentleness”. These lines paint a vivid picture of the loving qualities that her parents possess.

Marilyn Nelson Waniek is extremely symbolic when describing her quilt and comparing it to her family. Through vibrant imagery and a careful structure Waniek is able to create a reminiscent yet hopeful tone which abetted the writer in creating the complex meaning that Waniek attributes to “The Century Quilt”.

 

2010

Ap®

ENGLISHLITERATURE

AND

COMPOSITION

FREE-RESPONSE

QUESTIONS

Lille

5

JO

J520

ENGLISH LITERATURE

AND

COMPOSITION

SECTION

n

Total

time-2

hours

Question

1

(Suggested

time-40

minutes. This question counts as one-third

of

the total essay section score.)Read carefully the following poem

by

Marilyn Nelson Waniek. Then write an essay analyzing how Waniek employsliterary techniques to develop the complex meanings that the speaker attributes to The Century Quilt. You

may

wishto consider such elements

as

structure, imagery

l

and tone.The Century Quilt

for

Sarah Mary Taylor, Quilter

My sister and

I

were in love

25

among

her yellow sisters,with Meema's Indian blanket. their grandfather's white familyWe fell asleep under army green nodding at them when they met.issued to Daddy

by

Supply.When their father came home from his storeWhen Meema came to live with us they cranked

up

the pianolashe brought her medicines, her cane,

30

and

all

of

the beautiful sisters

and

the blanket

I

found

on

my sister's bed giggled and danced.the last time

I

visited her.She must have dreamed about Mama

I

remembered how 1'd planned to inheritwhen the dancing was over:that blanket, how we used to wrap ourselves

a

lanky

girl

trailing after her fatherat play

in

its folds

and

be chieftains

35

through his Oklahoma field.and princesses.Perhaps under this quilt

r

d dream

of

myself,Now

I've

found a quilt

of

my childhood

of

miracles,

r

dlike to die under;

of

my father's burnt umber

2

pride,

Six

Van Dyke brown squares,

40

my

mother's ochre

3

gentleness.two white ones, and one squareWithin the dream

of

myselfthe yellowbrown

of

Mama's

cheeks.perhaps

r

d meet my sonEach square holds a sweet gum leaf

or

my other child, as yet unconceived.whose fingers I imagine

I'd

call it The Century Quilt,would caress me into the silence.

45

after its pattern

of

leaves.I think

I'd

have good dreams

Reprinted

by

pemlission

of

Louisiana Slale University Pressfrom

Mama's

Promi.res

by

Marilyn Nelson Waniek.

for a hundred years under this quilt,

Copyright

©

1985

by

Marilyn Nelson Wanick.

as

Meema must have, under

her

blanket,dreamed she was a girl again in Kentucky

1Aquill

is

a

type

of

bedcovering oftenmade

by

stitching together variedpieces

of

fabric.2 Burnt umber is a shade

of

brown.

3

Ochre refers

to

a shade

of

yellow.

©

2010

The College Board.Visit the College Board on the Web:

WW\...,.coilegeboard.com.

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