Essay on Anna Quindlen’s “A Quilt of a Country”

I qualify Anna Quindlin’s “A Quilt of a Country”, supporting her key ideas of the “mongrel nation” and unity with tragedy. Quindlin defines the United States first as a nation “held together by…the notion that all men are created equal, though everyone knows that most men consider themselves better than someone [else)” (par. 1). A multicultural state like the US does not only uphold that standard, but also a variety of other things: John Locke’s social contract and the principles of democracy, for instance. Also, the idea of equality in the world is so convoluted that superiority of a few is inevitable; America only upholds equality because it was a means to maintain security from European despotism. In another facet of her argument, Quindlin discusses the ills of the nation: “The reality is often quite different, a great national striving consisting frequently of failure. Many of the oft-told stories of the most pluralistic nation on earth are stories not of tolerance, but of bigotry” (par. 2). Her tone develops as critical with these statements, influenced mainly by the recent 9/11 attacks.

Perhaps she uses her pessimistic language to say how, as a whole, America can come together despite these setbacks. This would suggest that the ideas of equality and unity are stronger in the United States than in other countries. Quite suddenly, her paper turns from hopeless moaning to a call to rally Americans against the new threat of terrorism. Citing the attacks directly, she states that “terrorism has led to devastation–and unity” (par.5). There is both historical and logical proof for this; the Cold War brought Americans together in fear of nuclear war, and similar-species organisms stay together in fear of predators. Born out of high emotions and an overpowering sense of nationalism, Quindlin’s article critically analyzes America and its components like an antiquarian examines an ancient quilt. But perhaps that is one way to view the quilt of Quindlin’s article.

Works Cited

  1. Quindlen, Anna. “A Quilt of a Country.” Newsweek 26 Sept. 2001: n. pag. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.

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