Br’er Rabbit is a figure from both the southern US and African folklore. He is a trickster who uses his wits to extricate himself from difficult situations. In the tale that I know, Br’er Fox forms a doll out of a piece of tar and dresses it with clothing. When Br’er Rabbit passes by he speaks to Tar Baby. Br’er Rabbit is irritated when the doll doesn’t respond and strikes it. But the more Br’er Rabbit hits Tar Baby, the more Br’er Rabbit gets stuck. When Br’er Fox pops out ready to pounce on Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Rabbit uses his wits and pleads, “Don’t fling me into the briar patch.” Of course, that is just what Br’er Rabbit wants. He is quite at home among the thorns and brush and makes his escape.
Ruth Bass, the creator of this quilt, explains, “It was difficult to chose an image for this piece. Most of the images available were done for the Walt Disney version of Br’er Rabbit (Song of the South). I chose to show the rabbit falling into the briar patch. He would always say, “Please, oh please, don’t throw me into the briar patch”! Reverse psychology for sure, as he was born in it.”