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Transcript of TPCASTT
Madison Coleman "The Century Quilt" (Marilyn Nelson Waniek)
for Sarah Mary Taylor, Quilter
My sister and I were in love
with Meema’s Indian blanket.
We fell asleep under army green
issued to Daddy by Supply.
5 When Meema came to live with us
she brought her medicines, her cane,
and the blanket I found on my sister’s bed
the last time I visited her.
I remembered how I’d planned to inherit
10 that blanket, how we used to wrap ourselves
at play in its folds and be chieftains
Now I’ve found a quilt1
I’d like to die under;
15 Six Van Dyke brown squares,
two white ones, and one square
the yellowbrown of Mama’s cheeks.
Each square holds a sweet gum leaf
whose fingers I imagine
20 would caress me into the silence.
I think I’d have good dreams
for a hundred years under this quilt,
as Meema must have, under her blanket,
dreamed she was a girl again in Kentucky
among her yellow sisters,
their grandfather’s white family
nodding at them when they met.
When their father came home from his store
they cranked up the pianola
30 and all of the beautiful sisters
giggled and danced.
She must have dreamed about Mama
when the dancing was over:
lanky girl trailing after her father
35 through his Oklahoma field.
Perhaps under this quilt
I’d dream of myself,
of my childhood of miracles,
of my father’s burnt umber2 pride,
40 my mother’s ochre3 gentleness.
Within the dream of myself
perhaps I’d meet my son
or my other child, as yet unconceived.
I’d call it The Century Quilt,
45 after its pattern of leaves.
1 A quilt is a type of bedcovering often made by stitching together varied pieces of fabric.
2 Burnt unber is a shade of brown.
3 Ochre refers to a shde of yellow. Title My first impression of the title "The Century Quilt" is that the poem will be about a big event, which is explained in the word "Century" and how that person was comforted during that event, which stems from the word "quilt". Paraphrase My sister and I were in love with our Grandmother's Indian blanket. We used to fall asleep under a green army blanket that was issued to our dad from the Army Supply. Later, when our grandma came to live with us, she brought medicine, her cane, and the blanket that I saw on my sister's bed last time I visited her. I recall how I used to plan on getting that blanket after my grandmother died, and I reflect on the times my sister and I used to have with that blanket, wrapping it around us, playing Indian chiefs and princesses.
Now I've found my own quilt that I'd like to have till I die. It has six brown squares, two white ones, and one yellow/brown square the color of my mother's skin. Each square has a leaf, which I can imagine wrapping around me as I fall asleep.
I think that I can have wonderful dreams for a hundred years wrapped in this quilt, as my grandmother must have done in hers. She probably dreamed that she was a little girl again in Kentucky with her Indian sisters and the way their grandfather's white family greeted them when they first met. She dreamed of when her father would come home from his store and her and her sisters would play their piano and dance and giggle together. After the time for dancing passed, I'm sure my grandmother dreamed about her daughter, my mother: a skinny girl who never left her father's side in his Oklahoma field. Maybe I could dream of myself under this quilt, of the magic of my childhood, my father's deep, dark pride, and my mother's bright gentleness. Maybe in these dreams I would meet my son or other child who isn't even a fetus yet. I would call it The Century Quilt, after the pattern of leaves on its squares. Connotation ~ Once the author switches from talking about her grandmother's quilt to the one she's found, she uses "I'd", which shows that she's thinking about about her blanket in a hypothetical sense of what she would experience if she got it.
~ She uses a lot of imagery in her description of her grandmother's memories to show the personal attachment her grandmother had to her own quilt.
~ The author describes her parents' characters as "burnt amber pride" and "ochre gentleness". By pairing a color with these qualities, the reader gets the feeling that her father had a deep personality, while her mother was bright and cheerful. Attitude The author exemplifies a nostalgic tone when recalling her memories with her grandmother's quilt and her grandmother's memories she had in that quilt. She then proceeds to undertake a hopeful tone when examining the memories she could potentially have with her own new-found quilt. Shifts There are three main shifts that take place in this poem. The first happens after the first paragraph, in which the author shifts from recalling how fond she was with her grandmother's quilt, to finding a quilt of her own. This shift shows a representation of being so drawn to the imprint her grandmother had on her and her want for something to represent her as she gets older. The main indicator of this shift is the shift in language to hypothetical. The next shift happens when the author finishes describing the quilt and begins to guess the memories her grandmother had with her quilt. Then, the last shift comes as the author reflects on the memories she could recall by having a quilt of her own. The last shift is accompanied by a sense of hope in leaving her legacy by building a family of her own. Title Upon examining the title again, I realized that the poem establishes the quilt as a symbol of timelessness, that a quilt carries the ability to not only recount past memories, but also dream of the possibilities of the future. Also, it shows that a quilt is a symbol of the person who owned it, carrying on their legacy long after they're gone . Theme With the author addressing the poem to someone, it indicates that the poem carries sentimental value obviously for the author, but also for the recipient. The poem represents the emotional need for people to remember their family's past, as well as reflect on their own lives, in order to keep the memory of their heritage alive. It uses the quilt as a symbol of those memories. Prompt: Read carefully the following poem by Marilyn Nelson Waniek. Then write an essay analyzing how Waniek uses 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. In her use of hypothetical language, imagery, and her implementation of a nostalgic yet hopeful tone, Waniek establishes a quilt as a symbol of timelessness, and how that timelessness attributes to the importance of remembering not only personal past experiences, but also those of someone's heritage, as well as the possibilities of the future.