Mrs. Johnson, the narrator, describes herself as a large and strong woman. She lives in the Georgia countryside, in a house that could be described as little more than a hovel. However, she is proud of her surroundings, and takes great care of the place both inside and out. She has not had an easy life, having been burned out of a previous house, and having also watched her younger daughter, Maggie, suffer severe burns in the fire. She is proud of her family history, knowing the past so well that she can even identify a patch of blue (Union?) cloth from the uniform "Great Grandpa Ezra" wore during the Civil War. She is also an acute observer, with great sensitivity for the wishes and feelings of her two daughters and with a parent’s wish to treat them both equally; hence she balks at giving Dee the quilts even though she has no qualms about the butterchurn parts.