The man who loved flowers
On a lovely evening in May, 1963, a young hammer-murderer walks around the streets of New York. He doesn’t look like someone who could or would murder anyone. Actually he looks the very opposite of that. He seems so in love and so happy, so much so that everyone around him believes in his sweet and innocent looks.
We follow this young man as he walks around the streets of Manhattan, starting on Third Avenue and ending in Harlem, eager to reunite with his significant other.
He buys her a pretty bouquet from a flower vendor. He and the seller have a long and friendly chat, but as the dark begins to settle down, he moves on again to find his love; Norma.
However when he finally sees Norma and wants to give her the beautiful flowers he bought for her, something is wrong. Something is very wrong and the story ends fatally.
“The Man Who Loved Flowers” is a very exciting story written by Stephen King. In this short story of his, he manage to make the thin line between love and completely insanity, all blurred. In the story we follow a young and unknown man walking briskly down the streets of NY, on his way to reunite with the love of his life, Norma. He seems to have his life and love together, as he goes for that sweet walk towards his Norma.
The evening on which we follow him, is a spectacular evening. It is summer, the sky is blue and on its way to a pretty violet color, the air is soft and everything is just perfect. It is one of those nights where everyone is feeling some kind of magic. It is one of those nights where you fall in love with everything you see and where, if you didn’t love the city before, you definitely would now. It is in other words, just a very special night. The only thing that ruins this pretty picture is the radio that pours out some bad news in which we hear a little about some war in Vietnam, another dead woman found and a hammer-murder who is on the loose. But who really listens and cares about the bad news on such a wonderful evening? No one does. And that is why not a single person care to suspect anything about this young man, who is so obviously in love and so happy, to be anything but a sweet and young guy, on his way to his sweetheart. Everyone around him seems to get his expression of love. And almost everyone he meets on his way admires those expressions of his.
We follow the unknown as he approaches an older man who is selling flowers from an old flower stand. The flower vendor is very old and not usually someone who talks a lot with his customers. But the young man is a special case and they have a long and friendly chat. Because as said before, this night is something special and magical and even the flower vendor seems to be affected by the young man’s very obvious expression of love. The whole scene of buying flowers is very long and we get almost every detail of which flowers the young man should buy and why. At the end he buys the most expensive bouquet of flowers from the old man, and he then proceeds his walk and as the afternoon slowly moves towards night, he is out looking for his love, Norma, once again, now with a pretty and expensive bouquet.
It is first when the young man meets Norma that we find out what his true identity is. And it is not what we expected at all! We discover that he is actually the hammer-murderer that the radio earlier that evening, described. The radio that no one listened to, and even if they did, no one would have suspected this ‘case of love’ to be such a cruel and horrible thing as a hammer murderer. It comes as a big shock for us readers, because we never would have guessed him as something else than a genuine guy in love.
Also, when he is in the middle of killing who he believed was Norma, with the little hammer he had hid in his pocket all night, we hear that not only has Norma been dead for over ten years, but also has he killed five other women, in his believe that they were Norma.
The whole story is described with positive connotations, until the last few lines in the dark alley where he meets “Norma”.
The reason to the good connotations is probably because the author wants to mess around with our expectations of what really is going to happen next. He gives the reader a false perception of the ending of the story, which only makes the story so much more exciting.
There is a few foreshadowing’s in the story, for example on page 176, line 6 – “the radio pours out bad news, in which it mentions the "hammer murder"”
And also on page 176 line 19-21 – “He reached into his coat pocket and touched the something in there again. For a moment his face seemed puzzled, lonely, almost haunted, and then as his hand left the pocket, it regained its former expression of eager expectation”.
The story is a short story because of several things. For example because of the very few characters in the story, the short time span, which only extends over one evening. The ending of the story is an open ending, which is very common for short stories.
The short story also contains quite some horror scenes, in the end, where he kills “Norma”. The scene in where the main character kills “Norma” is described with a lot of pictures, so that you really can imagine the actual happening. For example on p. 180, line 4 and 5: ”...her face a round white blur, her mouth an opening black O of terror…”, in that sentence can you really feel how “Norma” must feel. We feel horrified and we now know what is going to happen next. The next few sentences goes very fast. We hardly breathe as we read those lines.