Crewel Imagery

Adelice is Eaten Alive

“I feel exposed, but then I realize I’m standing in the spot where the main dish will be placed, a large ham or turkey or duck. One boy one, the Spinsters seated near this spot begin reaching out toward me, their hands returning with knives and forks full of steaming, white meat. I’m being eaten alive” (315).

The image of Spinsters ravenous at mealtime, grabbing for Adelice convey the degree to which she is under siege in the Coventry. Though she is not literally being eaten alive, the Spinster lifestyle and demands from Ambassador Pattaon and Maela threaten to pull her apart.

Maela: Death Personified

“It’s how I imagine death will come to me: overdressed and smoking” (106).

The image of Maela as death foreshadows her later actions in the Coventry. It conveys the sense of impending danger Adelice has whenever Maela is around but also marks Maela as the power-hungry status-grabber that she is.

The View from the Coventry

“[The] sun creeps up and paints the water dusty pink and orange” (56).

Adelice looks outside the Coventry window the first morning she spends out of her cell. The image is a vision of serenity, in contrast to the overall feeling that Adelice has in the Coventry. Using personification, Albin grants the sun the power to paint, and in so doing she emphasizes both the gentleness of the streaks on the water as well as the artificial nature of even landscapes in Arras.

Beneath the Fig Leaf

“I might as well clutch some fig leaves and hide in the corner" (182).

Adelice's aestheticians dress her in a form-fitting, silk gown for the State of the Union Ball. The image of her running in shame grasping a fig leaf is a reference to Biblical characters Adam and Eve hiding the shame of their nakedness in the Garden of Eden. Like Adam and Eve, during her time at the Coventry, Adelice uncovers knowledge, losing her innocence and blissful ignorance in the process.