Title and Author: Emma’s Rug by Allen Say
Field of Philosophy: Aesthetics
Plot Summary: Emma has a white rug that she takes with her everywhere she goes. Never stepping on it, she spends hours just sitting and staring at it. Taking up painting and drawing, Emma is seen as an artist by teachers and peers and begins collecting awards in art competitions. When asked where she gets her ideas, Emma responds, “I just copy.” One day, Emma’s mother washes the rug. It becomes shriveled, with all the fluff gone. Emma stops drawing and painting, and eventually throws away her awards, pencils, paints, brushes, and the rug. Eventually, sitting in her now empty room, Emma begins to see things in the wall, and then in the trees outside, that she “knew from before.” “I can see you!” she cries out. And the last scene, without words, shows us Emma drawing again.
Some discussion questions:
What did the rug mean to Emma? What did she see in it?
How did throwing away everything in her room help Emma to see these things again?
Does what Emma sees come from inside her, from the outside world, or both?
Why did Emma losing the rug cause her to stop seeing these things?
Is Emma an artist? If so, what makes her one?
When Emma stops painting and drawing, is she still an artist?