There are numerous references in the play to quilting and knotting. Explain how these references suggest more than simply technical terms for two ways of making a quilt. What weight and meaning do all of those references give to Mrs. Hale's last words?

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The materials and creative effort that were incorporated into Minnie Wright’s quilting project are two factors that catch both Mrs. Hale’s and Mrs. Stephen’s fancy. Mrs. Hale has the idea of sending the partially completed quilt and the necessary materials to the jail so Mrs. Wright could work on it there to “take up her mind.” This kind gesture, however, turns up something unexpected: the dead bird wrapped in a piece of silk and hidden inside the sewing basket. In this respect, the quilt stands for the secret that Minnie has been keeping, that of her husband’s violent abuse. It also comes to stand for the secret that the two women are keeping from their husbands.

Further, the piecing together of a quilt can be considered to symbolize the women’s solving the murder case; they assemble the pieces into the complete solution. “Knot” becomes a homonym for “not” when the county attorney asks if they have decided about the technique; they answer “Knot it,” implying that they are not going to divulge the secret. As the men approach and speak with them, the women bury the bird’s body deeper within the quilt scraps. As the play ends, Mrs. Peters hides the bird in her pocket, as the condescending attorney makes fun of the women’s attention to the quilt; Mrs. Hale repeats, “knot it.”

Last Reviewed by eNotes Editorial on December 3, 2019
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