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Quilts in "Everyday Use"

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Conor McCarty

on 1 November 2017

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Transcript of Quilts in "Everyday Use"

Goals of this Presentation
Quilts in "Everyday Use"
By: Conor McCarty
I will explore the symbolism of the quilts present in "Everyday Use"
Relate EU to some of Walker's other works
Look at the historical significance of quilts and oral tradition in African-American culture
In this this speech...

Symbolism of Quilts in "Everyday Use"
Scraps and fragments can be remade into something beautiful
Quilts tell a story of the past
An example of quilt that tells a story
Symbolism Continued
The two sisters views of the quilts show their views of their heritage:

Dee --> wants to frame the quilts which shows she only want to display it
Maggie --> would use the quilts regularly which shows she proudly lives her heritage
Symbolism Continued
The quilts reveal that the story is about the family's heritage
Some quotes to reinforce this idea:
"They had been pieced by Grandma Dee and then Big Dee and had me hang them on the quilt frames on the front porch and quilted them" (Walker 320)
"In both of them were scraps of dresses Grandma Dee had worn fifty and more years ago" (Walker 320).
The two sisters have different relations to the quilts:
"I didn't want to bring it up how I offered Dee a quilt when she went away to college. Then she had told me they were old-fashioned, out of style."
"'Maggie can't appreciate these quilts!" she said. "She's probably be backwards enough to put them to everyday use.'"
"It was Grandma Dee and Big Dee who taught her how to quilt herself"
Oral Tradition and Quilts within African-American Culture
Oral Tradition: a culture's traditions and stories passed down by word of mouth
Related to quilts because they both are used as ways to communicate information without writing it down
Example of Oral Traditions
Historical Significance of Quilts
Textiles and quilts contained important messages
- certain patterns revealed to slaves messages regarding the underground railroad.
Historical Significance
Quilts contain information about the maker's culture, heritage, and past, based on quilting techniques

African Andinkra Quilt
- Worn by people that are mourning
Tied strip quilt
- traditional African American quilt
African raffia quilt
-these patterns compose a secret language
Dresden plate quilt
- indicates the city of Dresden, Ohio in a secret code
Quilts Regarded as Art
Several museums display quilts as works of art
National Quilt Museum in Kentucky
The Smithsonian
Alice Walker on Quilts
Walker recognizes the significance of quilting to the lives of African-American women
She acknowledges that theses quilts are pieces of art and is "impressed with their functional beauty and by the process that produced them"
" When she sees a stunning quilt [...] and sees that is credited only to "anonymous Black woman in Alabama," she knows she is in the presence of "an artist who left her mark in the only materials she could afford, and on the only medium her position in society allowed her to use.""
(Piedmont-Marton 2)
Quilting Present in Walker's Other Works
Alice Walker uses quilts through some of her other novels to show heritage and family and to celebrate the past

The Color Purple
One of Alice Walker's most famous books
A quick summary from the back cover
This is the story of two sisters-one a missionary in Africa and the other a child wife living in the South-who sustain their loyalty to and trust in each other across time, distance, and silence. Beautifully imagined and deeply compassionate, this classic novel of American literature rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life.
Quilts in the Color Purple
Quilts are present in this novel because the main character, Celie, makes them
The quilts are made in the same manner as in "Everyday Use" -->
- They are created free African-American woman that are still oppressed by society
- Scraps from old dresses and clothing are used to make the quilts
- Quilting is something that is learned and taught through generations
Oral tradition and quilting are significant to the African-American culture
Symbolism of quilts in "Everyday Use"
The symbolism of quilts are present throughout several of Walker's literary works
Full transcript