Robin Jenkins effectively conveys loss of innocence and ant war through sophisticated symbolism in the short story “Flowers”. It tells the story of a young girl, Margaret, who was evacuated from the city of Glasgow to the highlands of Scotland in an attempt to avoid the inhumanity of war, but it is in the highlands where she truly witnessed the brutality of war.
The character of Miss Laing is used to show the glamour of war. At the beginning of the story Miss Laing is portrayed as a very harsh teacher but as the airmen fly over, we she her personality completely change. She is very patriotic and she cares for and treasures the airmen. She refers to them as “flowers” as she thinks that they are amazing and that everyone should love them. “There they are, children.” She cried. “They are the true flowers of our country, the most precious the most beautiful. Wave to them”
Miss Laing represents the glory of war. She compares the airmen to flowers as they are precious to her. The airman can be flowers in many ways; they are fragile and often die once picked. When she sees the airmen she becomes exuberant, it’s almost like she is a different person but she cherishes every moment whenever she catches glimpse of them.
The character of Margaret is introduced as someone who doesn’t usually follow the rules; she is an outsider and feels alienated from the rest of the children. “They all gabbled to one another in Gaelic, mysterious and hateful to her lowland ears”
As Margaret is from the lowlands she doesn’t understand Gaelic. She feels isolated and unwanted as the other children don’t take any interest in her or involve her in anything they do. She has not adjusted to the fact that everyone else speaks another language which unsettles her.
The fact that she is in the highlands infuriates her as she would rather be home, in Glasgow, playing with her friends. “Bell heather streaming like fire”
She compares the heather to fire which is unusual