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Symbolism in The Invention of the Wings

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Juliana Bush

on 8 November 2015

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Transcript of Symbolism in The Invention of the Wings

The Spirit Tree
Handful hears about it as a kid
“Now we putting our spirits in the tree so they safe from harm, so they live with the birds, learning to fly.” (83)
The red thread they wrap around the tree represents their sacrifice and their souls
Handful also wraps red thread around the tree that Denmark Vesey was hanged by
The pouch that they put around their neck helps them keep their spirit with them and it
The tree is important in Handful and Charlotte’s relationship because it gives Charlotte hope and determination to get home because her spirit is there
It also symbolizes their spirits longing to be free from slavery
Symbolism in The Invention of the Wings
Charlotte's Story Quilt
Represents Charlotte’s history: the experiences and hardships she endured
Feathers inside the quilt symbolize freedom
“I lifted the quilt from the frame and folded it up, thinking of the feathers inside it, and inside the feathers, the memory of the sky.”(337)
Feathers are like the blackbirds flying away in Charlotte’s story
When Miss Mary saw the story quilt, she saw the struggles they had to go through, and was shamed
Square quilt frame that hung above Charlotte and Handful’s bed symbolized a safe place or a home
“-and the first thing I’d see was the quilt frame, the one true roof over my head.” (335)
Charlotte’s story quilt, the money, Sarah’s booklet, and Sarah’s letter telling Handful about the promise she’d made to free her were all hidden in the quilt frame

Sarah's Fleur de Lis Button
Used to symbolize slavery
Slaves would be branded with it to indicate that they were “troubled”
Now being compared to the Confederate flag and having the same severity
When used in symbols and crests, silver represents peace and sincerity
A Fleur de Lis traditionally symbolizes purity and light
A Fleur de Lis is either a lily or iris
Symbolize chastity and virture
Symbol of the Virgin Mary’s purity
Became linked to the French Monarchy during the middle ages
And iris’s three upright petals are said to represent faith, valor, and wisdom
Handful's Rabbit-Head Cane
Handful first receives it after she hurts her ankle and she has to use a cane and Goodis whittles it down to the right size and into a rabbit head
“Not only had the man [Goodis] trimmed off the bottom end to make the right size, he’d carved the handle into a rabbit head.” - pg. 171
This shows a lot about Goodis’s personality and how caring and nice he is especially to Handful
The cane also represents the workhouse and how Handful and many other slaves were hurt
They were brutal to slaves at the workhouse and the cane represents how strong Handful and other slaves were physically and mentally

5. The story of The Invention of Wings includes a number of physical objects that have a special significance for the characters: Sarah’s fleur-de-lis button, Charlotte’s story quilt, the rabbit-head cane that Handful receives from Goodis, the needle and thread, and the spirit tree. Choose one or more of these objects and discuss their significance in the novel.
By Juliana, Karen, Lucy, and Anika
The Needle and Thread
“She [mauma] use to say, you got to figure out which end of the needle you’re gon be, the one that’s
fastened to the thread
the end that pierces the cloth
.” (337)
Fastened to the thread: Safe, at home and comfortable. Secure at all times
The end that pierces the cloth: More adventurous. Makes a difference
Handful-End that pierces the cloth
Goes against Society
Sarah-End that pierces the cloth
Adventurous, takes risks
Made a difference (Abolitionist movement)
Full transcript