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Q1. "The Century Quilt" by Marilyn Nelson Waniek

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on 23 April 2015

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Transcript of Q1. "The Century Quilt" by Marilyn Nelson Waniek

Read carefully the following poem by Marilyn Nelson Waniek. Then write an essay analyzing how Waniek employs literary techniques to develop the complex meanings that the speaker attributes to The Century Quilt. You may wish to consider such elements as structure, imagery, and tone.
Motifs & Themes
Some motifs incorporated in "The Century Quilt" include the following:
Quilt / blanket
Some themes touched upon in the poem are as follows:
Passage of time (past / present / future)
Family / heritage
Use of first-person pronouns throughout the entirety of the poem.
This gives the poem a more conversational tone.
Allows the reader to relate to the speaker more easily.
Narrative poem
Write a commentary that answers this prompt. The commentary should include a thesis, an outline of the body, and a conclusion.
Example Theses
There are many materialistic objects in our lives that we attribute sentimental value to. These objects could consist of pictures, jewelry, or even a quilt. In the poem, “The Century Quilt”, Marilyn Nelson Waniek utilizes imagery of her family heritage, metaphors, shifts, and a reminiscent tone in order to express how she hopes that her newfound quilt will be able to represent her family’s heritage, as her grandmother’s blanket once did.
Q1. "The Century Quilt" by Marilyn Nelson Waniek
"We fell asleep under army green..."
(line 3)
"Six Van Dyke brown squares, two white ones, and one square the yellowbrown of Mama's cheeks..."
(lines 15-17)
"...among her yellow sisters, their grandfather's white family..."
(lines 25-26)
"...of my father's burnt umber pride, my mother's ochre gentleness..."
(lines 39-40)
Tone / Mood
The tone of the poem can be described as follows:
Shift after line 12
There is a shift from the past to the present. In the past, the speaker would sleep under and play with various blankets that didn't belong to her. In the present, the speaker has found a quilt she can call her own.
Shift after line 20
There is a shift from the present to the future. The speaker goes from discussing her acquistion of a quilt to hoping that her descendents will also inherit the quilt.

* There is a shift between each
free-verse stanza
Other Structural Elements
Anaphora (lines 38-39)
Extended metaphor: comparison of the quilt to the speaker's family heritage
The Century Quilt represents the speaker's heritage and identity.
It also serves as an indication of the diversity within her family. The quilt has brown, white, and yellowbrown squares.
The speaker's love of The Century Quilt shows that she embraces her culture and family.
The speaker wants her descendents to inherit the quilt, making it evident that the speaker wishes to pass down her culture as well.
Acceptance of one's own culture and heritage is a critical prerequisite to self-love. In "The Century Quilt" by Marilyn Nelson Waniek, the speaker's appreciation of her background is shown through her love for The Century Quilt. Through the skillful use of color symbolism and shifts, Waniek effectively conveys the speaker's association of her diverse family and heritage with The Century Quilt as well as the speaker's hope for the preservation of her family roots.
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