The Significance of the Black Rose in 'Fragrance of Roses' by Peter Carey

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The significance of the black rose in 'Fragrance of Roses' by Peter Carey

'The locals will now tell you that when they visited the old man's glasshouse, they discovered the most beautiful rose that anyone could ever dream of. It was twice the size of a man's fist and was almost black in colour, with just the faintest hint of red in its velvety petals.'

Fragrance of Roses is about a pitiful foreign old man who had lived in a poor village for twenty-five years. His only work was breeding roses in a glasshouse behind his house. After two Israeli agents arrested him, the villagers who disliked him openly finally discovered his past as the former commandant of Auschwitz and his beautiful black rose, which became their prized possession and tourist attraction.

Auschwitz was a deadly Nazi concentration and extermination camp in Poland during the Second World War. Prisoners were either killed in gas chambers, or died from malnutrition or overwork. The majority of them were Jews. It was operated due to the Nazi idea of ‘purifying’ the Aryan race in Germany. People of the white Caucasian race were deemed the superior master race. The final solution to the idea was a six million people genocide.

In many literary works, roses are symbols of romance and love. Just one example is the short story, 'A Rose for Emily', by William Faulkner, where the rose represents the idea of eternal love and faithfulness, as in the story, Miss Emily had killed her lover who had no wish to marry, in order to keep him beside her at her will untill she died.

The symbolism of the black rose in the short story, 'Fragrance of Roses', however, is much darker and harrowing.

In the short story, the villagers named the rose, 'the Auschwitz Rose' and insisted that it emits a heavy sweet odour of death and mass graves of Auschwitz. It is possible as the black colour of the rose may symbolise death, while the 'faintest hint of red' may symbolise blood. However, I believe that Peter Carey...
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