"The Flowers" by Alice Walker

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“The Flowers” by Alice Walker is a short story written in the 1970’s. The story focuses on Myop, a ten year old African American girl who loves to explore the land in which she lives. Carefree and naïve, Myop decides to travel further away from her ‘Sharecropper cabin’ and travels deep inside the woods to unfamiliar land where she discovers the decomposed body of an African American man. It is then Myop quickly grows up and suddenly becomes aware of the world in which she lives. The story relies on setting and symbolism to convey the theme of departing innocence.

Firstly the author wants to create an astonishing and radient world in which Myop lives in with beautiful sceery and picturesque skies. To do this her descriptions of the setting is strong and detailed, for example, “skipped lightly from hen house to pigpen to smokehouse”. This highlights that Myop lives on a fairly big bit of land perhaps a farm which is filled with different kinds of animals, also the quote “the days had never been as beautiful as these” portrays that this is one of the best days of the year so far and it leaves the reader thinking, could anything go wrong to change that? Walker also tells the reader what time of year it is by describing what Myop does everyday, “The harvesting of the corn and cotton, peanuts and squash, made everyday a golden surprise”. The word “harvesting” shows that it is around the end of summer beginning of autumn and the phrase “golden surprise” reminds us that Myop is still a young girl and gets excited very easily, the world is a magical place for her. In paragraph two, Alice Walker reminds us again how young, naïve and carefree Myop is, “She struck out at random chickens she liked, and worked out the beat of a song on the fence” and the quote “she was ten, and nothing existed for her but her song”. This conveys that Myop does not have a care in the world, the only thing on her mind right now is “her song” and it is as if Myop is in her own little dream world. The author then goes back to describing the scenery, “She felt light and good in the warm sun”. This tells the reader that it is still early in the morning as the sun is still bright and high in the sky. Walker still continues to illustrate the setting throughout paragraph three where she says “silver ferns and wildflowers grew”. Again this tells the reader that Myop’s surroundings are beautiful, tranquil and peaceful. Alice then goes on to tell us that Myop lives in a “sharecropper cabin” which gives across a strong sense of safety as it is familiar and family orientated.

Added to this, the writer’s use of symbolism strengthens this idea of attractiveness and inexperience, Myop’s name being the main symbol. Myop is short for Myopia. The name given to short-sightedness. This is used as a metaphor as Myop’s naivety, then as the story goes on Myop opens her eyes to see what the real world is like and the author mentions her name less. Another symbol used in paragraph 2 is the “warm sun”. This symbolises the light and life of the world. It is a time when people are supposed to be awake and no body should be sleeping but this is later contrasted further on in the story. All the setting and scenery described gives an image of the Garden of Eden- paradise – a place everyone wants to be, where nothing bad can happen up until one critical moment when Eve eats the apple and everything forever changes. This gives the reader an insight in to the rest of the story but still leaves them wondering what could happen next.

However the atmosphere begins to change halfway through the story. The setting becomes like the Garden of Eden, after the fall- “an armful of strange blue flowers”. This shows that the atmosphere is starting to change the further away from home she is. It is unfamiliar territory and being far from home means that nobody is around to guide her on her way, “Today she made her own path, bouncing this way and that way”. This portrays that Myop does not know...
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