The Camellia Clues
The camellia is just one of the many examples of how Harper Lee displays symbolism in her book, To Kill a Mockingbird. The camellia is given to Jem from Mrs. Dubose after she dies. The meaning of this gift, however, is difficult to determine. I believe the gift could have a few different meanings such as a symbol of racism, simply being a kind gift, or reminding him to be brave and to stand up for what he believes in no matter what.
The appearance of the camellia alone is an example of symbolism. The flower is white with a black stem. Many people believed that this showed racism. Mrs. Dubose grew these flowers knowing the powerful white flower was held up by a black stem, which the inhabitants of Maycomb saw as a symbol of racism. Mrs. Dubose could have been showing that even though the morphine addict has become a braver, stronger woman, she still has the same beliefs and finds herself higher than blacks.
The gift could be just that: a gift. Mrs. Dubose could also have been showing Jem that she forgives him. Mrs. Dubose could be showing that the flowers grew back just as beautiful as before and that the woman believes Jem learned a lesson. The gift could show the thankfulness she had towards him for keeping her company during the little bit of time she had left on Earth, or Mrs. Dubose may just want Jem to have something to remember her by.
Mrs Dubose's camellias represent the prejudices that cannot be brushed off easily When Mrs Dubose expresses her deep-rooted prejudices through verbal attacks against Atticus, Jem's 'self-conscious rectitude' (Chapter 11, p. 108) gives way to fury. The destruction of prejudice is symbolised by Jem's act of cutting 'the tops off every camellia bush Mrs Dubose owned', leaving the ground 'littered with green buds and leaves' (Chapter 11, p. 109), which represents...