alternate strip of parchment

kahroba

Senior Member
Persian
Dear all
What’s your interpretation for “alternate strip of parchment” in the following context from “Newsreel XX” in “1919” by Dos Passos:
I think it’s part of W. Wilson’s speech in 1915 about US Flag.
When I think of the flag which our ship carry, the only touch of color about them, the only thing that moves as if it had a settled spirit in it, in their solid structure; it seems to me I see alternate strip of parchment upon which are written the rights of liberty and justice and strip of blood spit to vindicate these rights, and then, in the corner a prediction of the blue serene into which every nation may swim which stands for these things.
 
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  • kyrintethron

    Senior Member
    English - America
    This should be "alternate strips of parchment", and refers to the alternating red and white stripes on the American flag. He uses the would parchment to be poetic, as he describes the white stripes as having the rights of liberty and justice written on them, like an old document that would have been made of parchment.

    -K
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I agree with kyrintethron's interpretation. These are alternate strips of parchment because he is thinking of the foundational documents of the United States, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They were in fact written on parchment, and parchment is associated with older and valued documents.

    "The rights of liberty and justice" are the subject of the preamble to the Constitution:
    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    In Declaration of Independence, the right to liberty is emphasized.
    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Added: kyrintethron is also right that 'strip' should be plural. Here is the version published on the website Digital Dos Passos, which carries notes on some of the historical references in his work. (You probably already know this website, but other people may find it interesting.)
    .
    When I think of the flag which our ships carry, the only touch of color about them, the only thing that moves as if it had a settled spirit in it, — in their solid structure; it seems to me I see alternate strips of parchment upon which are written the rights of liberty and justice and strips of blood spilt to vindicate these rights, and then, — in the corner a prediction of the blue serene into which every nation may swim which stands for these things.
     

    Mahantongo

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    The "in the corner a prediction of the blue serene" continues the image of the US flag; it refers to the blue canton with white stars, which is like an image of a "serene" sky without clouds.
     
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