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An allusion is a figure of speech whereby the author refers to a subject matter such as a place, event, or literary work by way of a passing reference. In “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens,” Alice Walker uses allusion to effectively support her point. “They wandered or sat about the countryside crooning lullabies to ghosts, and drawing the mother of Christ in charcoal on courthouse walls” (pg 402). This is a religious allusion to Mary, the mother of Christ. The image of Mary is a familiar one to most people and conjures up an effective image here. Another example of allusion in the essay is the allusion to Phillis Wheatley, a slave and the first African-American woman to be published in America. Walker uses this allusion to point out exactly how difficult it was for not just women writers, but especially for African-American women writers. “One example, perhaps the most pathetic, most misunderstood one, can provide a backdrop for our mothers' work: Phillis Wheatley, a slave in the 1700s” (pg. 404). Walker also uses an allusion when telling the story of Black women artists using the only medium they could to express themselves: quilting. “For example: in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., there hangs a quilt unlike any other in the world. In fanciful, inspired, and yet simple and identifiable figures, it portrays the story of the Crucifixion. It is considered rare, beyond price” (pg. 407). The Crucifixion, of course, is a biblical reference to Jesus Christ. Alice Walker uses many other allusions in the essay; she is an expert at using these examples to support her overall point.
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