A Story

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  • Published : December 6, 2012
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In this very short story, Alice Walker tells of a young, African American girl who, while gathering flowers, stumbles quite literally upon the body of a dead man. The atmosphere, language and subject matter of the story suggest the southern United States as a setting-sometime in the mid- to late-20th century seems an appropriate time period, though this is far less clear. The contrast between the story's beginning and end is striking. We begin with a light-hearted description of the life of Myop, a young girl-she skips along and taps her stick, enjoying the summer-but end with the loss of her innocence. Indeed, the key image of the story comes at its climax: Myop, picking a pink rose for her bundle of flowers, notices the noose with which the dead man was hanged, realises how his death relman was hanged, realises how his death relates to her heritage, and lays down her flowers out of respect. The first three paragraphs are devoted to setting the scene-describing Myop ("...her dark brown hand...") and putting her in context ("...her family's sharecropper cabin...", "...the spring, where her family got drinking water..."). Effective description provides credibility to the environment, and makes the later events all the more shocking: "Myop watched the tiny white bubbles disrupt the thin black scale of soil and the water rose and slid away down the stream." The end the third paragraph sees Myop collect "an armful of strange blue flowers..." These flowers go on to become the main object of the story, hence the title, and hold symbolic meaning-the flowers, representing Myop's innocence, are ultimately lost. In the fourth paragraph, Walker hints at the events to come with a change of atmosphere: "The air was damp, the silence close and deep." Compare this to the first paragraph: "The air held a keenness that made her nose twitch." As Myop becomes increasingly uneasy about the strangeness of her surroundings, the story pivots abruptly: "It was then that she stepped...
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