The House, the Quilt, and the Pink Ribbon: Symbolisms in Stories Symbolisms in novels and stories support their themes or main points. In the novel The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros narrates the life of Esperanza, who moves to Mango Street. Since then, the house stands for both freedom and imprisonment. In “Everyday Use,” Alice Walker uses the quilt to signify the role of traditions in African American culture. Nathaniel Hawthorne explores the loss of innocence in “Young Goodman Brown” through the symbol of pink ribbons.
Esperanza of The House on Mango Street sees her house as a point of her identity and loss of it. Her new house is in a squalid neighborhood that she is embarrassed of. Because of her house, her race and culture are more defined and the more she is shameful of it. However, Esperanza realizes that her identity is her own doing. After being raped, she resolves to free herself from her house, but not completely enough to forget its role in shaping her identity.
“Everyday Use” uses the quilt as a symbol of the interconnectedness of traditions through the people who believe in its validity through lived experiences. The quilt stands for rural tradition that only Maggie understands. Like the quilt, Maggie and Mama have not changed at all, and they are happy with their simple rural life. Dee rejects this everyday use of their cultural artifacts: “[Maggie] probably be backward enough to put [the quilts] to everyday use” (Walker). Mama believes that she knows better, when she gives the quilts to Maggie. To use it every day is what their traditions are. Traditions are meant to be experienced and not hidden in a museum.
Nathaniel Hawthorne studies the loss of innocence in “Young Goodman Brown” through the symbol of pink ribbons. These pink ribbons stand for the innocence of his wife and the purity of the church. Because of his dreams in the woods, the pink ribbons have turned into tools of deception. His dreams shook his faith and destroyed its pink ribbons that he once believed in.
These symbols show how objects can be related to human issues and beliefs. A house can mean isolation and redemption. A pink ribbon reflects both innocence and delusion. A quilt stands for interconnection and traditions. Thus, these symbols acquire significance because these authors embedded meaning into their purposes and ends.
Cisneros, Sandra. “The House on Mango Street.” An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. 11th ed. Eds. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. New York: Pearson Longman, 2009. 518. Print.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. 11th ed. Eds. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. New York: Pearson Longman, 2009. 419. Print.
Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. 11th ed. Eds. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. New York: Pearson Longman, 2009. 455. Print.