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Children are born into the world with a clean slate. They are pure and have not encountered the dark realities of this world. When children are constantly shielded by parents, they are oftentimes protected by the lurking dangers in the world. However, because of this constant protection, children defy their parents and make choices by themselves, often leading to a loss of their innocence. One such girl in ‘The Flowers’ by Alice Walker, Myop is an innocent 10 year old who is mesmerized by the beauty of nature.
She does not realize the stark reality of the duality of nature at the time, however, she is met with a loss of innocence at the end of the short story.
When children like Myop are shielded from the world by parents, it appears that they live in a youthful paradise. At the start of the short story, Walker uses phrases such as “golden surprise” as she establishes a youthful and innocence part of Myop’s character.
Walker uses imagery to further establish the tone and foreshadows the end of the story. Initially, the imagery is warm as Walker describes the beauty and wonder of the wilderness Myop explores. From the intricate details, the reader can picture Myop happily skipping and exploring the woods with her stick as she takes nature in. Through the use of diction and imagery, Walker makes the reader want to jump right in and explore the wilderness with Myop.
However, the paradise feeling does not last long as it is contrasted when Walker begins to introduce negativity by using words such as “strange” and “gloomy.
” Because of the shift in tone, the reader begins to see the turn this story is about to make. Like any youthful child, Myop loves the outdoors and explores nature around her. Myop frequently explored the woods near her family’s cabin and often walked past the wildflowers and stream. Towards the middle of the story, Myop experiences a change in character as she takes “her own path” where she was no longer protected in the shield by her parents and began exploring for herself. She begins to encounter the unknown as she sees snakes and “strange blue flowers.”
As Myop enters the unknown, the reader begins to notice what is yet to come as a negative perspective approaches. As the tone begins to change, Walker highlights parts of nature that were not mentioned before: ‘damp’ air, a ‘rotted noose.’ Just when Myop “began to circle back to the house”, she sees a dead man and faces the negative side of a place she held dear to her heart, a place she frequently explored and knew for its beauty. The nature around Myop that used to always be beautiful is now ‘frayed, rotted, bleached, and frazzled.’ When the short story concludes with ‘And the summer was over” it shows that after this experience, Myop will no longer be able to look at nature the same way.
When children wander into the unknown, they experience a change in their character and a change that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. What you once considered to be your favorite place in the world, a place where you would explore frequently and take in nature, throws an unexpected reality, it stays with you. Walker sets the stage, slowly but surely, in conjunction with the contrasting symbolism, diction, and imagery to show the inner conflict Myop faces and the profound effect it will leave on her.
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