The Century Quilt Poem Analysis

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Everyone has certain childhood memories and objects that shape them and their identity. For Marilyn Nelson Waniek, one of these was a quilt. The speaker in this poem uses the literary techniques of diction and symbolism to show how childhood objects and circumstances, like the quilt, can shape and show our identity. The speaker also uses hyperboles to emphasize how important a sense of identity is to people and how that identity shapes our lives. The speaker in this poem uses diction, specifically colors, to create a warm tone that is associated with aspects of her childhood in order to shape the image of her identity. Phrases like “the yellow brown of Mama’s cheeks,” “burnt umber pride,” and “ochre gentleness” employ unconventional adjectives…show more content…
The leaves on the quilt likely represent the leaves, or the people, of a family tree. The quilt itself is like the tree and the stitching and mashing together of the sections of the quilt are like the trunk and branches, connecting the family together. The love and respect with which she treats the quilt as well as the immortality she assigns to it (“The Century Quilt” and “each square holds a sweet gum leaf”) show the importance the speaker places on family. With this, the speaker is implying that family is forever, and your familial identity is just as, if not more, important than any other label the world assigns to you. Lastly, the speaker uses some hyperboles in this poem to show the importance of a sense of identity and how this shapes our lives. One such hyperbole was “Now I’ve found a quilt I’d like to die under” which shows she’s found her identity and the thing she wants to be defined by (family and heritage.) Another was, “I’d have good dreams for a hundred years under this quilt,” showing her willingness to embrace her identity and be proud of her family and heritage. This shows how much she is attached to her identity and how much she believes in
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