Essay about "The Flowers"; Nearsightednedd

Submitted By nboyda
Words: 1140
Pages: 5

Alice Walker, in her short story titled, “The Flowers”, tells of a little girl, Myop, who has her nearsighted world shockingly expanded in a sudden and unfortunate way. “The Flowers” begins with the setting, short of a rainbow in the background, that sounds like heaven on earth; a simple but beautiful life. It tells of a lower-class African American family who make a living off of the land, pigs are rooting in the forest and chickens roaming about through the grass, skimming for bugs to eat; a stream is running nearby with a spring surrounded by wild flowers and silver ferns. Then there is Myop, a ten year old girl where “nothing existed for her but her song” in a summer where “days had never been as beautiful as these”. Myop lives in a world that exists right in front of her eyes and that is what she wishes to only see and acknowledge. A loss of innocence is realized through personal and direct moments in life, not vicariously through other people’s experiences. Myop has knowledge of danger, death and darkness; however, she lives in an immediate reality until she stumbles upon the dead man in the woods.
Myop’s existence up until this day has been a pleasant one with no worries, minimal wants, and contentment with what she has. The name ‘myop’ has been argued to be short for ‘myopia’, a form of nearsightedness. Myop only sees what is in her immediate surroundings. Her existence still has its dangers as her parents have taught her, however she remains carefree: “she made her own path, bouncing this way and that way, vaguely keeping an eye out for snakes.” Myop is aware that there are dangers in the world and that, although concealed, these dangers have the potential to strike and cause injury or even death. Though Myop is innocent, she would not be classified as the stereotypical wide-eyed child, with lollipop in hand. We can see from her family’s lifestyle that they work to survive, and danger and death is something Myop has knowledge of. Myop is not so much as innocent, as she is nearsighted with the harsh reality of the world.
The defining moment of “The Flowers” is not in the closing line where the change from summer to autumn is announced. The loss of ‘nearsightedness’ had already happened. Rather, the defining moment was her noticing the makeshift rope used to put the man to death:“…she noticed a raised mound, a ring, around the rose's root. It was the rotted remains of a noose…now blending benignly into the soil. Around an overhanging limb…clung another piece. Frayed, rotted, bleached, and frazzled…Myop laid down her flowers.” Myop has not been hidden away from the world for the ten years of her life; there is evil, such as the hanging of a man, walking distance from the place she calls home. This is not to say it is an evil she has experienced firsthand, but it is a reality that surrounds her people, her family, and her home. A little girl stumbles upon a dead man, who has been there for so long it takes close examination for her to realize what exactly she has stepped into. Her initial reaction of “a little yelp of surprise” and her observation of “[T]he buckles of the overalls…turned green” tell the reader that Myop’s little knowledge of death give her the urge to explore a little more, enlightening her to things she has only heard of. After some examination of the scene, she goes about finishing her bouquet before heading home, and that is when she discovers what has lead to this man’s demise. There were some other men out there that saw fit to put the blue-denim overalled man to death. It is even hinted that the execution was not even a “proper” death, as indicated by his “…cracked or broken…” teeth and the “shredding plowline” used as a rope, but a death surrounded by violence and hate.
The remaining portion of the noose in the tree can best be summed by the term “apathy”. The apathetic “[F]rayed, rotted, bleached, and frazzled--barely there--but spinning restlessly in the breeze” rope continues to spin