Describe Aunt Mehetabel's life before she began work on the bedquilt.

Aunt Mehetabel's life was pretty miserable before she began work on the bedquilt. Long regarded as the least important member of her family, she lived a life of bothersome toil, working long hours at home washing, ironing, and pulling the hulls out of strawberries.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

It's no exaggeration to say that working on the bedquilt has given Aunt Mehetabel a new lease of life. If we wish to see confirmation of this, we need only look at how she used to live before she started working on it.

Back then, Aunt Mehetabel led a life of drudgery. Regarded as the least important member of the Elwell family, the unmarried sixty-eight-year-old is considered by her relatives as nothing more than an old maid. This essentially means that she has no life of her own.

Because of this, she's expected to perform a series of menial household chores every day. On Mondays, she washes the sweaty shirts of the men of her brother's family, who have been working out in the fields all day. And on Tuesdays, she spends several hours ironing a "monotonous succession of dishcloths and towels and sheets."

For good measure, Aunt Mehetabel sits in the corner of the kitchen with the children, removing the stones from cherries and picking the hulls out of strawberries. It's a terrible, soul-destroying chore that leaves Aunt Mehetabel with her fingers dyed red.

It's not that the Elwells are deliberately unkind to Aunt Mehetabel. It's just that she's such an insignificant figure in their lives that they give no thought to her or her needs.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial