The Symbolism of Quilts
Designs used in quilts are not necessarily symmetrically organized; rather the art of quilting reflects an aesthetic understanding by the makers of what the quilt represents for them in their everyday experience. (Barkley-Brown, 1990). The shape of a quilt results from the meaning that the individual quilters give to the pieces that compose it. This art form is known as gumbo ya ya in Creole which means everybody talking at once. (Barkley-Brown, 1990).
Alice Walker’s usage of quilts in her short story Everyday Use reflects the importance and significance of a quilt in African-American history. A quilt embodies heritage and personal stories and events; a quilt is similar to a person’s own journey in that each scrap stitched into a quilt represents “a person’s world view [which] is made up of events, circumstances and influences that shape how [she] see[s] and respond[s] to the world.” (Eshbaugh, 2008, August 21). Narrated by the mother of the two main characters, the symbolism of the hand-stitched quilts in Everyday Use represents the conflicts between two sisters who each experience the world and their heritage differently.
The story begins with Dee, the eldest daughter, first homecoming since leaving for college. Walker describes Dee as a woman who no one ever told “no.” Dee is well-educated, wears bright colors that accentuates her full-figured body and exudes confidence. However, Dee will never be satisfied in life, and she is ashamed of her family and upbringing. As the story progresses, Dee’s reason for returning home becomes clearly apparent in that her only reason in returning is to take the items, especially the hand-stitched quilts, that are meaningful to her from her previous life in the house so that she can display the items in her own home. Dee’s lack of respect and interest in the lives and stories.
GradeSaver provides access to 710 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 3958 literature essays, 1357 sample college application essays, 161 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.Identity Confusion in Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" Timothy Sexton
Alice Walker's short story "Everyday Use" is a tightly woven tale that brings together many disparate elements of the story to reinforce the thesis put forward by W.E.B. DuBois that black Americans are trapped in a double consciousness between their African heritage and their American citizenship. Walker's story is about the bifurcation between a mother and a daughter, between America and Africa, and between the two cultures battling for one identity. Beyond the obvious identity confusion expressed in the character of Dee/Wangero, Walker imbues her story with symbolism that points to the general confusion of identity inherent in the African experience.
DuBois equates the experience of black America with striving to create a singular consciousness out of an identity made up of dual perspectives. DuBois writes that "One ever feels his twoness. two warring ideals in one dark body" (564). Walker's story is about this war over identity and she extends it even to the symbolism of the items that Dee wants. Dee urgently desires the butter churn and asks, "Didn't Uncle Buddy whittle it out of a tree you all used to have?" The very fact that the churn was made from a tree, that its identity was forged into something new based upon its.Join Now to View Premium Content
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She doesn't seem to have any hobbies which she enjoys. When Dee joined the Nation of Islam and changed her name to Wangero, she began to view old objects as an important part of her heritage and as art.
The Butter Churn and Dasher are two examples of the objects Dee now shows interest in. The butter churn was crafted by Maggie and Dee's Uncle Buddy. Mama describes them with great detail which indicates how much value she holds to them. Dee, on the other hand, plans to use the top of the churn as a centerpiece for her table and just throw away the bottom part. She says that she will "think of something artistic to do with the dasheraE (658). Dee apparently sees no useful life for either of the two objects. Mama is not very pleased, as she is a practical woman.
The quilts are the last part of family history to be argued over. The history of the quilts is the history of the family as they were made from old material throughout the generations. Dee becomes upset when she learns that Ma
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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Everyday Use - 879 words
SSDifferent points of view on culture and heritage!"!SSEveryday Use!" is a literary explanation of what culture is. In! SSEveryday Use!", the author Alice Walker confronts the question of what are the true values in one!|s heritage and culture. In the conflict between Dee and her mother, Alice Walker shows that one!|s culture and heritage are represented by neither the possession of objects or external appearances, but by the lifestyle and attitude. In 'Everyday Use!", Alice Walker personifies the different sides of culture and heritage in the characters of Dee (Wangero) and her mother (the narrator). Dee can be seen to represent a complex and modern way of life where culture and heritage are to be valued.
Her mother represents a practical way of life where they are valued both for it is usefulness as well as personal significance. When Dee first comes to visit the family, she is wearing a long dress, even though the weather is very hot. We get the impression that Dee is more occupied with aesthetic appearances rather than practicality. The dress is colored with enough yellow and orange 'to throw back the light of the sun'(1174). Dee is also wearing numerous pieces of jewelry, earrings and bracelets
Even more than Alice Walker!|s description of Dee is the significance of Dee!|s 'name change' to Wangero that seems to symbolize Dee!|s attitude about one!|s culture and heritage. It seems to reflect a sort of glittery artificial pretense put on in order to assume sophistication. Dee disregards the importance of her name, the fact that she was named after her aunt Dicie. And when asked about why she changed her name, Dee can only discharge an answer, 'I couldn!|t bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me.'(1175) Another important detail is the words directly preceding her answer about what happened to her name! V 'She!|s dead..' (1175) is Dee!|s answer. By these words, Alice Walker shows that Dee has distanced herself even further from her family, heritage, and culture! V despite her 'new' name and the way of talking. Dee is portrayed as aggressive, to the point of total lack of regard for her family. When she first greets her family, she starts snapping pictures of the house and her mother before even greeting them with a kiss or a hug, or even a handshake.
Later, when they are in the house, Dee begins just taking various items for herself, assuming they belong to her first, before even asking permission from her mother. Alice Walker, through Mrs. Johnson!|s point of view describes Dee as going straight 'to the trunk at the foot of my bed and started rifling through it.'(1177) Alice Walker uses Dee!|s actions to portray those like her as greedy and self-serving. By contrast, Dee!|s mother does not fly into any sort of rage. Instead, she is tolerant of Dee!|s actions and words up until the final part of the story. Dee derides the house, yet her mother and Maggie continue to use the house because despite its appearance, since it functions perfectly well as a home. The house can be seen as one of the aspects of the family!|s culture and heritage - being uneducated, poor descendents of slaves.
Just as Dee hates the house she hates the uncomplicated life of poverty that her family lives in. Dee decline the house and yard, which symbolize of her family!|s past, at the same time she wants various objects in the house - a churn top, a dasher, and several quilts which are just as meaningful to the family history as the house and the yard are. But they are reminders of the different views Dee and her Mother hold about culture and heritage. Dee views these items as works of art. Mother sees their practical value and actually makes use of them when Dee exclaims, '..they are priceless!!"(1177) it is because they are handmade by her family and she envisions some sort of monetary value.
But what is really priceless is the actual ability to make these things. Dee does not have this ability nor does she want it. She has declined her ability, part of her true heritage, while her mother and her sister still occupy it. Walker is trying to point out the motivations behind the characters - by Dee!|s attitude toward the heirlooms of the family is a sign of either culture or heritage. The story is clear to us that Dee is equally confused about the nature of her culture and heritage and Dee!|s attitude is the irony and focal point of Alice Walker!|s entire story. Regardless of Dee!|s worldliness and education. she neither knows nor values her real culture and heritage. Alice Walker shows that culture is neither name changes or bright dresses and different hair.
In the story, the culture gives us a unique perspective into people lives and the conflicts they face. The way of the conflict is handle in a decision left to the individual, who is guided by the cultural upbringing. Therefore, people who occupy their real heritage and culture makes use of it every day of their life.
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hi i was wondering if anyone could comment on my essay so I can make improvements (trying to get a high mark. )
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Analyze and discuss the importance and function of symbolism What is symbolic, and how does it function? What meanings surround this symbol, and do they change over the course of the story? Is a particular character associated with this symbol? How important to the story's meaning is this symbol?
In the short story, "Everyday Use", author Alice Walker uses everyday use items to portrait the symbolism in this story. These items have different meanings and reaction to the main characters, which contrast; simple and practical use, to stylish decorations. The main characters in this story are Mrs. Johnson, Maggie and Dee. Each has their opposing views on the value and worth of the various items in their lives, the author uses this conflict to make the point that the substance of an object, and of people, is more important than style.
Alice walker uses the quilts as the main Symbolism for this story and as mentioned above each character has a different opinion on what these quilts mean to them. Quilts as we know; can be used as either a type of sheet for your bed or could be used as a decoration. The quilt in this story represents their culture. These quilts were passed down through generations of the family, thus making them very unique, irreplaceable and priceless (75). Other symbols in the story are: the churn, the bench, and the dasher. All three of these items have gained imprints on them from overburden use of them. This plays a very important role for it shows us that these items have been altered, making them more convenient and practical. (73-74)
Towards the end of the story, the mother must make a choice as to whom to give the quilt which they will hold for generations. While both characters are deserving of the quilt, both have different ideas as to what to do with them. Dee knows that these items are priceless pieces of tradition and heritage. She wants them to hang for decoration (75) Dee also quotes "She'd probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use." (76). the fact that Dee only wants to hang them on a wall to be looked at defines the argument the author is trying to make. If Maggie takes the quilts she will defiantly use them and they might rip or become completely useless; while if Dee takes the quilts she will use them as decorations and they will no longer be improved and they also would become useless in the sense that they are not in any us. I believe that; author Alice Walker intended for Maggie to have the quilts as they would be in everyday use and would represent use of their heritage.
The symbols in this story play a significant roll, without the symbols there would be no conflict Dee would have really came to visit her mother to say hi. The symbols in this story are not too rich in detail but when you do see a symbol they always indicate some sign of overburdened usage (73-74-75) thus making them a part of everyday use. Overall the symbols represented heritage. Is it better to live your heritage or to simply take a token of it? Dee was acting like a tourist; she walked into her mother's house and took items that she would not use but instead make art out of them.
in this story the symbolism that helps Dee and maggie is their quilt that their mother gave to them. Even if maggie and dee was realy diferent from each other they do the best thing that their mother told them to.
EF_Kevin Threads: 8
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You don't need the commas around the title in that first paragraph.
These items have different meanings and reaction to the main characters, so that characters react to them in contrasting ways; which contrast; simple and.
Each has their opposing views on the value and worth of the various items in their lives, and the author uses this conflict to make the point that the substance of an object, and of people, is more important than style.---Nice thesis statement!
Alice walker uses the quilts as the main Symbolism for this story and as mentioned above each character has a different opinion on what these quilts mean to them. Quilts as we know; can be used as either a type of sheet for your bed or could be used as a decoration. The quilt in this story represents their culture. These quilts were passed down through generations of the family, thus making them very unique, irreplaceable and priceless (75). Other symbols in the story are: the churn, the bench, and the dasher. All three of these items have gained imprints on them from overburden use of them. This plays a very important role for it shows us that these items have been altered, making them more convenient and practical. (73-74) (Right here, add a sentence that shows how the content of this paragraph supports your thesis statement. Know what I mean? Add a sentence that tells why this paragraph proves the thesis statement is true)
Again. revise this so that it supports the thesis statement. or add another sentence to the end of the paragraph. believe that; author Alice Walker intended for Maggie to have the quilts as they would be in everyday use and would represent use of their heritage.
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Symbolic Message through Clothing
In Susanne K. Langer"s essay Language and Thought she expresses the meaning of signs and symbols. Langer explains that a symbol does not have a meaning it "merely brings things to mind." A symbol is a tool that is used to express power, wealth, or someone"s feelings. Symbols mean something different by each that it is observed. Many individuals express symbols through their clothing.
An individual can express their feelings through many different ways. Clothing is an easy and beneficial way to show someone your occupation or your choice of music. When one sees a person wearing a military uniform it makes them look as if they have power and discipline. How one perceives a symbol is different for every one. The same symbol might not mean the same thing to me as it does to someone else.
When I wear a suit I feel a strong confidence and a feeling as though I am powerful. I feel this way because when I see a person in a suit they represent wealth, power, and confidence. Without me even meeting this person in the suit I assume that they have a well paying job in the business field. I know this is wrong to assume this but this is what I was taught to be professional looking.
I sometimes like to wear a shirt that has a dragon on the front and back. I do this because a dragon is a large and dangerous beast and it brings me a sense of power confidence and the feel of invincibility. I also wear it because it makes me feel comfortable. Rather than wear a suit and be restricted by the collar at the neck, I can wear a long sleeve T-shirt and have the ability be comfortable. When I see this symbol on my shirt I feel a freedom that not many other symbols can give me. The dragon on my shirt is flying which sometimes let me imagine if I wear able to fly and get away from the pressures of my everyday life.
Certain symbols can trigger ones senses to feel a certain way about a specific design or style. This is the purpose of a symbol, to bring things to mind. According to Langer a symbol never has a specific meaning and I would agree. A symbol does not a specific meaning because each individual uses symbols as a tool to express their own personal meaning that it portrays to them.Other sample model essays:
The use of symbols is one of the most striking features of Blake’s poetry. There is hardly any poem written by Blake, which does not possess a symbolic meaning, besides its apparent or surface meaning. Though most of his poems are written in simple language, the fact does not deprive them of a deep meaning. However in order to understand Blake’s poetry at a deeper level, we have to know something about the symbols, which he makes use of. A.C.BAUGH has remarked ,
“The mystic movement of his mind required metaphor; he saw not likeness but the glory and terror of God as manifested in His creation, but ended as a symbolist with Yeats and Eliot. Critics have classified the principal symbols which are used by William Blake as innocence symbols, energy symbols, sexual symbols, corruption symbols, oppression symbols and so on. Blake uses a group of related symbols to form a dominant symbolic pattern in which the child, the father and Christ represent the states of innocence, experience and a higher innocence. Blake is a highly symbolic poet and his poetry is rich in symbols and allusions. Almost each and every other word in his poems is symbolic.
A symbol is an object which stands for something else as dove symbolizes peace. Similarly, Blake’s tiger symbolizes creative energy; Shelley’s wind symbolizes inspiration; Ted Hughes’s Hawk symbolizes terrible destructiveness at the heart of nature. Blake’s symbols usually have a wide range of meaning and more obvious. Few critics would now wish to call Blake a symbolist poet, since his handling of symbols is markedly different from that of the French symbolistes’, but the world inhabited by his mythical figures is defined through quasi-allegorical images of complex significance, and such images are no less important in his lyrical poetry. The language of these poems is like that of the Bible—at once simple and profound as the following lines read: “O Rose, thou art sick!”
When Blake talks of the sick rose, he is really telling us how mysterious evil attacks the soul. Flower-symbolism is of particular importance in Songs of Innocence and Experience, being connected with the Fall by the motif of the garden; and its traditional links with sexuality inform the text of ‘The Blossom’ and the design for ‘Infant Joy’, which are taken up in Experience by the plate for ‘The Sick Rose’. ‘Ah! Sun-Flower’ is a more symbolic text, and has evoked a greater variety of responses.
Declaring this to be one of ‘Blake’s supreme poems’, we can interpret the flower as a man who ‘is bound to the flesh’ but ‘yearns after the liberty of Eternity”. Harper claims that it describes the aspiration of all ‘natural things’ to ‘the sun’s eternality’. Identifying the speaker as ‘Blake himself. Blake travels from flower-symbolism to animal symbols as in the ‘Tyger’: “Did he smile his work to see
Did he who made the Lamb make thee!”
If the lamb symbolizes innocence and gentleness, the tiger is to Blake a symbol of the violent and terrifying forces within the individual man. The lamb, innocent and pretty, seems the work of a kindly Creator. The splendid but terrifying tiger makes us realize that God’s purposes are not so easily understood, and that is why the question arises “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” At the same time, the tiger is symbolic of the Creator’s masterly skill which enabled Him to frame the “fearful symmetry” of the tiger.
But the lion described in the poem Night (in the “Songs of Innocence”) offers an interesting contrary to the tiger of the “Songs of Experience”. Both the beasts seem dreadful, but the lion, like the beast of the fairy tale, can be magically transformed into a good and gentle creature: the tiger cannot. In the world of Experience the violent and destructive elements in Creation must be faced and accepted, and even admired.
The tiger is also symbolic of the Energy and the Imagination of man, as opposed to the Reason. Blake was a great believer in natural impulses and hated all restraints. Consequently he condemns all those who exercise restraints upon others. He states in Holy Thursday II: “And their ways are fill’d with thorns
It is eternal winter there”
The eternal winter are symbolic of total destruction of the country and the perpetual devastation and ‘Grey-headed beadles’ in ‘Holy Thursday I’ are symbolic of authority and it is they exploit children for their own material interests. In the poem London, oppression and tyranny are symbolised by the king (who is responsible for the soldier’s blood being shed), social institutions like (loveless) marriage, and ‘”he mind-forged manacles”. Even further, personal and social relationships have been symbolised as: “In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree”
A Poison Tree is another allegory. The tree here represents repressed wrath; the water represents fear; the apple is symbolic of the fruit of the deceit which results from repression. This deceit gives rise to the speaker’s action in laying a death-trap for his enemy. The deeper meaning of the poem is that aggressive feelings, if suppressed, almost certainly destroy personal relationships. On the surface, however, the poem is a simple, ordinary story. Thus symbolism is crucial to understanding Blake as poet of earlier romanticism. What can be more symbolic than the following lines from, ‘Auguries of Innocence’? “To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour”
Thus, Blake’s poetry is charged with symbols. He has depicted nature and human nature; animals and plants as simple but profound symbols of powerful forces; “contrary states of the human soul” – for example, good and evil, or innocence and experience throughout his poetry. What is different in Blake is that he is not modeling after any symbols but his own.
The symbols always have an inner relatedness that leads us from the outer world to the inner man. The symbols live in the ordered existence of his vision; the vision itself is entirely personal, in theme and in the logic that sustains it. Blake is difficult not because he invented symbols of his own; he created his symbols to show that the existence of any natural object and the value man’s mind places on it were one and the same. He was fighting the acceptance of reality in the light of science as much as he was fighting the suppression of human nature by ethical dogmas.
He fought on two fronts, and shifted his arms from one to the other without letting us know—more exactly, he did not let himself know. He created for himself a personality, in life and in art, that was the image of the thing he sought. In short, it is established that William Blake is a highly symbolic and even allegorical
poet. His use of symbolism is unique and cinematic. It paints a lively and pulsating picture of dynamic life before us. Especially, the symbolic use of ‘Sun-flower’ gets so much stamped on the mind of the reader that it is difficult to forget it.
He mentions a tiger it becomes a symbol of God’s power in creation, his lamb turns out to be a symbol of suffering innocence and Jesus Christ and his tree is symbolic of anger and desire to triumph over enemies; the dark side of human nature. Symbolism is the main trait of William Blake as a dramatist as a poet and this has been well-crystallized in his legendary work, ‘The Songs of Innocence and Experience’.
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