Innocence Of Childhood Essay By Alice

This very short, short story surely packs a punch in the end.  The simple title of "The Flowers" starts the reader on a positive note and the majority of the descriptions in the first paragraph seem to carry that forward.  But starting even as early as the 2nd paragraph, the reader starts to, perhaps, perceive that not everything is idyllic in the story.  Myop travels beyond her usual boundaries, suggesting that she is leaving the...

This very short, short story surely packs a punch in the end.  The simple title of "The Flowers" starts the reader on a positive note and the majority of the descriptions in the first paragraph seem to carry that forward.  But starting even as early as the 2nd paragraph, the reader starts to, perhaps, perceive that not everything is idyllic in the story.  Myop travels beyond her usual boundaries, suggesting that she is leaving the known for the unknown.  This kind of travel is often a suggestion of loss of innocence.  When Myop continues her walk and collects pretty flowers we still think that she is in a state of innocence, but when she picks the pink rose and steps into the human skull, we realize that not only is the skull now shattered, so is her innocence.  She is literally looking at the face of death.  She lays her flowers down in a gesture of respect for the dead, but, when she looks up and sees what remains of the noose, the last of her innocence is gone.  She now realizes that she looking not only at death, but the cruel racial violence of a lynching.  The last sentence clearly indicates a complete end of summer, but the meaning is the complete end of innocence for Myop.

Even though "The Flowers" is not a long story, it is filled with amazing descriptions and details, and contains a profound message of lost innocence at the end.  One way that Alice Walker emphasizes that messages is through contrast.  Myop and her happy jaunt through the forest is described using very long sentences filled with flowery details of the beautiful day and Myop's happy mood.  For example, take this sentence:

"She found, in addition to various common but pretty ferns and leaves, an armful of strange blue flowers with velvety ridges and a sweet suds bush full of the brown, fragrant buds."

Here we have a long, descriptive sentence, that describes in detail a type of flower along Myop's path.  The story is filled with such calm, happy descriptions.  Contrast that with the final line of the story:  "And the summer was over."  The stark contrast is startling, noticable and points out the import of the message:  Summer, happiness, and Myop's meandering innocence was over, and very abruptly.

Another tool that Walker uses is symbolism.  Note that Alice Walker doesn't say "And Myop lost her innocence and realized what a horrible place the world can be" at the end.  What she DOES say is that "the summer was over."  Summer, in the story, symbolizes the innocence of childhood.  So do the flowers; right before "the summer was over" comes the line, "Myop laid down her flowers," which symbolizes Myop setting aside her innocence and happiness.  As she walks through the forest earlier, she gathers a lot of flowers; her arms were filled with them.  They were various and beautiful, as described in the line above.  So too was her happiness and innocence.  But at the recognition of evil in the world, that innocence was no longer possible.  Walker symbolizes that through the flowers and the summer.

I hope that those thoughts help to get you started; good luck!

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