The Century Quilt By Marilyn Nelson Wenick Essay

The Century Quilt By Marilyn Nelson Wenick Essay

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There exists, in each and every individual, a desire to belong to something greater than one’s self. While there is much in life that one must discover on their own, the security ensured through the bonds of acceptance provides many with a means of identification. Such classification is exemplified in the poem “The Century Quilt” by Marilyn Nelson Wenick, where familial bonds are examined through the means of a family coverlet. Through the utilization of literary techniques, the author effectively develops the complex meaning of the century quilt.
One of the literary techniques most prominently featured throughout the passage would be that of imagery. The author takes great care to interweave sentences comparing the traits of her kin to colors upon the aptly titled "Century Quilt,” from her note of the quilted square that was “the yellow-brown of Mama’s cheeks” to their depiction of her father’s “burnt umber pride.” Each family member is labeled with a particular color—the narrator’s mother is associated with honey or ochre colors, her father brown, and her great-great-grandfather white. In her descriptions of the familial colors, however, the narrator intimates an unresolved tension amongst its members. When relating the history of her grandmother, Meema, for example, the author first depicts Meema’s sisters as “yellow” and Meema’s grandfather and his family as “white.” When the two families meet, the author has few words for their interactions, stating that their only form of recognition was “nodding at [them] as they met.” The lack of acknowledgment the narrator depicts in this scene, particularly between those of differing skin pigmentations, would indicate a racial divide permeating the society in which...


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...appears to associate her identity within the confines of her family history, and therefore takes great comfort in the understanding that death does not finalize who a person is to be and become; they are forever defined by the works of those before them, and those that will follow suit, all under the bonding of blood.
As history has shown, mankind possesses the impetuous desire to both separate from and identify with those they distinguish as family. There is a lust for the new and undiscovered, a world in which one belongs with no other individual. However, with time, most come to understand that the bonds which they have with others are not obstacles in their paths, but means by which they are strengthened and completed. After all, life is not meant to be experienced alone, but to be shared with those who appreciate one for who they are; not who they wish to be.

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