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What does Margot Anne Kelly (1994) mean by saying that Walker "relies on partial, local...

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nikouli | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted May 28, 2012 at 9:02 PM via web

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What does Margot Anne Kelly (1994) mean by saying that Walker "relies on partial, local and fragmented knowledges to make a narrative?"

Kelley makes a comparison between the making of the quilt  and the narrative techniques of black women writers. Is the comparison successful? I just don't see what she means by "partial" and "fragmented".

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tresvivace | College Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted May 31, 2012 at 1:18 AM (Answer #1)

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You will find the source of that quotation in the third reference cited below.  In an article about bell hooks (who does not capitalize her name), Susana Vega-Gonzalez compares hooks' autobiography to quilting and then quotes Margot Ann Kelly.  The complete quotation from Kelly in Vega-Gonzalez's article refers to "African American novelists like Toni Morrison, Alice Walker or Gloria Naylor" and reads as follows:

...these literary women rely on partial, local, and fragmented knowledge to make a narrative. The writers acknowledge that both the quilts and the narratives--as well as the beings who are their makers--are constructed.  However, they regard the need to piece and seam not as a reason for despair but as an opportunity to rework the outmoded, whether it e in clothing, novel structures or conceptions of the self. 

The words "partial" and "fragmented" are not intended as critical of these fine writers; rather, these words suggest that they are creating narratives from pieces of conversations and stories that have been passed down to them or from incidents that they have lived through or even from memories that are often fragmented and incomplete.  In much the same way, the amazingly beautiful quilts of the African American tradition are created from "partial" and "fragmented" bits of cloth.  Each piece by itself does not make a complete blanket anymore than each small memory, incident, or conversation does not make a story or novel.  But when pieced together  by these brilliant novelists and creative quilters, the results are often breath-taking. 



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