So, we know that quilts are comfy and warm and perfect for snuggling up under on a cold winter's night with a book and a cup of hot cocoa. Sigh. But did you know they can also be symbolic? Hmmm, maybe that's what makes them so cuddly.
In 1918, Mrs. Larkin asks each of the ladies of Manifest to contribute a square to the victory quilt she'll be putting together. She plans to present it to President Woodrow Wilson for his autograph and then auction it off to raise money for the troops. Nice thought, right? But when Miss Sadie stops by her house to drop off her square, Mrs. Larkin is not quite as nice. In fact, she's pretty awful. And we quote:
"The deadline has passed and the quilt is full. Besides, as president of the DAR, it is my responsibility to ensure the suitability of anything going before the president of the United States. Involvement of someone of your profession would be inappropriate, to say the least." (16.46)
Wow. Talk about mean. And if think of the quilt as representing the town of Manifest (which we at Shmoop do), then it shows us exactly how fragmented the citizens are: some squares (and some citizens) are accepted and sewn together to make the fabric of the design (or the town), while others are rejected and kept apart from the rest.
But look what happens when Jinx comes to town and gets up to his mischief:
The unfortunate explosion of fireworks in the water tower—and subsequent dousing of the president and the newly signed victory quilt—was a somewhat surprising turn of events. (16.124)
His influence on the town literally throws cold water on their mean behavior—represented by that quilt—and forces them to start over. And once Abilene gets involved twenty years later, the town is finally ready to join together without any prejudice:
And the women were piecing together another quilt, only this time, instead of a victory quilt, it was a friendship quilt, and they asked Miss Sadie to make the center square. (42.4)
Would you look at that? Miss Sadie has become the center of the town by helping heal it with her story. Looks like Manifest is finally one big, comfy, friendly quilt.