Suggested time—40 minutes. Read carefully the following poem by Marilyn Nelson Waniek. Then write an essay analyzing how Waniek employs literary techniques to develop the complex meanings that the spe

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Suggested time—40 minutes.

Read carefully the following poem by Marilyn Nelson Waniek. Then write an essay analyzing how Waniek employs

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.


The Century Quilt


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

and princesses.

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

25 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:

a 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 umber pride,

40 my mother’s ochre 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.

Considering there is a suggested 40 minute time limit, the essay does not have to be super long or detailed, but PLEASE look over the rubric below to see how the essay will be evaluated.

Rubric – 6 point total

Thesis: Responds to the prompt with a thesis that presents a defensible interpretation of the poem. 1 point

Evidence AND Commentary: EVIDENCE – Provides specific evidence to support all claims in a line of reasoning. AND COMMENTARY – Consistently explains how the evidence supports a line of reasoning. AND Explains how multiple literary elements or techniques in the poem contribute to its meaning. 4 points

Sophistication: Demonstrates sophistication of thought and/or develops a complex literary argument. Responses that earn this point may demonstrate a sophistication of thought or develop a complex literary argument by doing any of the following: 1. Identifying and exploring complexities or tensions within the poem. 2. Illuminating the student’s interpretation by situating it within a broader context. 3. Accounting for alternative interpretations of the poem. 4. Employing a style that is consistently vivid and persuasive. 1 point

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