Knowledge: Kinds And Values in The Quilts of Gee’s Bend a documentary, W; t [Wit] a play, And Everyday Use a short story   Leave a comment

What kinds of knowledge are there?

There are schemas for different types of knowledge in, The Quilts of Gee’s Bend a documentary by Vanessa Badim and Matthew Arnett, W; t [Wit] a playby Margaret Edson, and Everyday Use a short story by Alice Waler. Factual knowledge [declarative knowledge] is seen in Everyday Use by Alice Walker, giving specific details of racism in history, such as Mama commenting, “After second grade the school was closed down. Don’t ask me why: in 1927 colored asked fewer questions than they do now” (p. 316). Furthermore, Reverend Clinton Pettway, Jr. at Ye Shall Know the Truth Baptist Church in Gee’s Bend, stated, “When they say we going to see our quilt, I was expecting to see the new quilt, but when I walked in and saw all these old quilts it brought back the memory of the hard time, it brought back the struggle, the pain, the night I was awake from being hungry.  It brought all that back.” Also Nettie Young spoke about the past factual  knowledge of how to cope, “You see the slaves, they singing, and that where they get the joy from, proud to be able to sing with one another, part of the living…you sing, you forget, it makes joy in the heart, bring peace to yourself… ” Factual Knowledge is apparent in W;t by the use of medical terminology for example Jason explained, “Very late detection. Staged as a four upon admission. Hexamethophosphacil with Vinplatin to potentiate. Hex at 300 mg. per meter squared, Vin at100” (p. 36).

All three share other types of knowledge such as, in Gee’s Bend where Conceptual Knowledge is shown by the structure of designs and stages to create quilts, in W;t where classifications and categories are made like patient/doctor or teacher/student as Vivian commented, “Once I did the teaching, now I am taught” (p. 37). In Everyday Use touches on race distinction as Mamma noted, “Who can even imagine me looking a strange white man in the eye” (p. 315).

Procedural Knowledge is depicted in Gee’s Bend of how to piece a quilt by showing specific techniques, in W;t determining when to use suitable procedures for battling cancer and how the process of treatments will transpire. Artistic Knowledge is seen is both Gee’s Bend and Everyday Use as quilts are viewed as an expression  of the times as well as an art form and in W;t it was the studying of the literature of poetry. Self-Knowledge, Cultural Knowledge, and Spiritual Knowledge were portrayed in all three. W;t and Everyday Use described Formal Education Knowledge for instance Mamma remarked about Maggie, “I reckon she would,” I said. “God knows I been saving long enough with nobody using ’em. I hope she will!” I didn’t want to bring up how I had offered Dee (Wangero) a quilt when she went away to college. Then she had told me they were old-fashioned, out of style” (p. 320).

How are different kinds of knowledge valued?

AnnaMay’s granddaughter in Gee’s Bend is interested in quilting and she said, “They don’t have time, to stop and sit down and piece together, she watches, she wants to learn how to piece a quilt…. she is trying to learn can’t find many, they talk about they want to do but they ain’t got time…” Her granddaughter commented, “I stay here and watch then I go back home.” The granddaughter is showing how she values her heritage, knowledge and culture by her interest in continuing the legacy of piecing quilts. Nettie Young valued her knowledge of quilt piecing as part of survival and when interest in the art of quilts came to Gee’s Bend she commented, “And I’ll tell you the truth, I thought he was crazy [Bill] buying all those them quilts, say what’s wrong with this man, these quilts ain’t good for nothing. But when you don’t know, you just stand back and live and wait and see what it will bring.” In W;t, Vivian valued her knowledge as a professor as that was part of her self-identity as she revealed, “I know all about life and death. I am, after all, a scholar of Donne’s Holy Sonnets, which explore mortality in greater depth than any other body of work in the English language” (p. 12). In W;t, Vivian valued her knowledge of words as she stated, “My only defense is the acquisition of vocabulary” (p. 44).


Badim, V. & Arnett, M. (2002). The Quilts of Gee’s Bend: Documentary. Retrieved from

Walker, A. (1973). Everyday Use. Retrieved from,

Edson, M. (1993). W;t. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

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