The Invention of Wings

Sarah’s Silver Button Symbol Analysis

Sarah’s Silver Button Symbol Icon

As a young girl, Sarah decides to use a silver button as a symbol of her dream to become a jurist, despite the impossibility of a woman having such a career in this time period. Sarah wants to be a jurist so that she can influence laws that will improve conditions for slaves. When Sarah’s father tells Sarah that this dream will never come true, Sarah throws the button in the fire, showing how she has given up on her ambitions. Yet Handful saves the button from the ashes, stating that the support of other female friends is necessary for any woman to succeed. Handful gives the button back to Sarah at her lowest moment, reminding Sarah of her once passionate ideals and giving her the strength to continue fighting for equality.

Sarah keeps the button hidden for many years, as she is not yet ready to admit her radical ambitions to the world. When Sarah lives in Philadelphia and decides to become a Quaker minister, Sarah finally openly wears the button to show her brave commitment to abolition and racial equality. The presence of the button keeps Sarah from giving up on her goal to help the slaves by taking the easy road of marrying a Quaker gentleman, and it gives Sarah courage when she faces her fears and gives public lectures about the evils of slavery. Though Sarah never becomes a jurist, the silver button keeps her on a path towards working for equality for all people.

Sarah’s Silver Button Quotes in The Invention of Wings

The The Invention of Wings quotes below all refer to the symbol of Sarah’s Silver Button. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Friendship Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of The Invention of Wings published in 2015.
Part 5 Quotes

When autumn came, Lucretia and I attended the women’s meeting at Arch Street where we found ourselves standing in a crowded vestibule beside Jane Bettleman, who glared pointedly at the fleur de lis button I'd sewed at the throat of my gray dress. Granted, the button was ornate and expensive, and it was large, the size of a brooch. I'd freshly polished the silver, so there in the bright-lit atrium, it was shining like a small sun.

Related Characters: Sarah Grimké (speaker), Lucretia Mott, Jane Bettleman
Related Symbols: Sarah’s Silver Button
Page Number: 283
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Invention of Wings quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Get the entire The Invention of Wings LitChart as a printable PDF.
The invention of wings.pdf.medium

Sarah’s Silver Button Symbol Timeline in The Invention of Wings

The timeline below shows where the symbol Sarah’s Silver Button appears in The Invention of Wings. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: November 1803 - February 1805
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
...is going to become the first female jurist. Sarah cuts a beautiful silver fleur-de-lis patterned button off one of her dresses and puts the button in small box as a symbol... (full context)
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
...freedom. Sarah thinks of appealing to Father again, but gives up. She keeps her silver button as a reminder of what she will do some day. (full context)
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
...fine dresses. In the back of Sarah’s wardrobe, Handful finds a box with a silver button inside. Glancing around to make sure no other slaves see her, Handful slips a spool... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
...mood, Sarah also tells Hetty about her dream of becoming a jurist and the silver button that she uses to remind herself of that dream. (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
Hetty admits that she has seen the button, and that she knows all about symbols like Missus’ cane and her mother’s thimble. Hetty... (full context)
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
...manages to pull herself out of the deep hole and refocus herself on the silver button and the dream it held. (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
...Mother advises Sarah to stop fighting her fate. After Mother leaves, Sarah takes her silver button and drops it in the fire as Handful mournfully watches. (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
...tree. Handful and Charlotte give their spirits to the tree as Handful strokes the silver button that she rescued from Sarah’s fire. Handful officially announces that she gives her spirit to... (full context)
Part 2: February 1811 – December 1812
Friendship Theme Icon
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
...lives. Handful puts together a tray to bring up to Sarah and slips Sarah’s silver button onto a saucer. When Sarah sees it, she just stares. Handful tells Sarah that the... (full context)
Part 3: October 1818 – November 1820
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
...of Joan of Arc and notices a fleur-de-lis pattern that reminds her of the silver button she once had. (full context)
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
...remembers Handful telling her that she was enslaved in mind and worries over the silver button. Finally, Sarah decides to follow the Voice, be it God’s or her own desire for... (full context)
Part 4: September 1821 – July 1822
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
...the age of 30 without doing a thing to end slavery. Sarah remembers her silver button and knows that she can not stay in the South. (full context)
Part 5: November 1826 – November 1829
Friendship Theme Icon
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
...(as Charlotte is still a slave even if she is “home”). Sarah gets the silver button out of her desk and remembers how Handful gave it back to her when she... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
Sarah. Sarah wears the silver button to Quaker meetings, offending more conservative Quakers like Jane and Samuel Bettlemen with her flashy... (full context)
Part 6: July 1835 – June 1838
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
...happening. At nine o’clock, Sarah goes to give Missus one final goodbye, wearing her silver button at her throat. Handful and Sky paint their faces with white flour gum and get... (full context)