Wednesday, 29 August 2007

"Alias Grace" by Margaret Atwood: the significance of quilts

The quilt structure

The quilt sections represent the story features of each section (Chapter) For example, “Jagged Edge” and “Rocky Road”.

Some chapters begin with the design of a quilt and others do not. Consider why.

Symbolism:Peonies: represent shame, bashfulness, red for anger.

Narrative style
The ending of the ballad is represented in the novel. (Tree of Paradise).

Letters as a stylistic feature of writing were used in early novels. These help fill in detail on the characters and aid the reader's objective view of characters and events. Chapters 6 and 14

This links to other notes on Grace and narrative: its power to shape within and outside her character.

“I worked away at my quilt blocks, for the quilt I am making for the Governor’s wife, there are only five blocks to be finished”. 76

Chapter 19 is important for the significance of quilts in Grace’s narrative. The quilts embody her story.

Quilts and their symbolic significance is explained by Grace on pages 185-6. Grace wonders why women “have chosen to sew such flags, and then lay them on the tops of beds” 186. See also, 187 for more on quilts.

Does this passage relate to the relationship between men and women? Possibly.

Beds, too, are explored for their significance. 186 It remind me of “The Bed of Ware”. 186

Quilts are related to marriage 254 “And I thought of the quilts I would make for myself, after I’d saved up enough wages and was married, and with a house of my own.” 254

A “quilt” is pulled over Mary Whitney after her death. 206

There is a paragraph on page 217 in which the narrator used the imagery of quilt-making, “sew”, “web”, "Ariadne”, “patch” etc. and it is about the difference between an “angel” and a “monster” and how the mysteries of the nervous system “remain to be revealed”. 217

The absence of quilts could have a significant meaning too. Grace on Kinnear (“His bed did not have a patchwork quilt but a dark bedspread that matched the curtains”. 256 ????


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I teach Film, Media and English Lit.