What do Mayella's geraniums symbolize in To Kill a Mockingbird?
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Mayella endures a harsh, lonely life as Bob Ewell's daughter. As the oldest girl, she becomes responsible for the other children. The geraniums seem to represent her own need for some beauty in her miserable life and her desire to brighten the lives of her siblings as well as her nurturing capacity.
Mayella's life is anything but glamorous, or even normal. She is the eldest daughter, the substitute mother to all of her siblings, and the mistress to her own father. She can't be anything but miserable, but that doesn't keep her from hoping--hope is what keeps the human spirit afloat. The geraniums symbolize her hope for a lovelier future, a future of some normalcy and beauty. The flowers are the only thing of beauty and color in the yard. They are the only thing in the yard and home that seem to be meticulously cared for. They are red, the color of love--heat--passion--hope.
Mayella Ewell had the unfortunate luck of being born into the Ewell family. She was a lonely girl who was left alone in the house and forced to raise her siblings and be whatever her father wanted her to be to him. She was abused and had nothing for herself. She was mistreated and misused by just about everyone in her life. The only thing she had were her geraniums.
"against the fence, in a line, were six chipped enamel slop jars holding brilliant red geraniums, cared for as tenderly as if they belonged to Miss Maudie Atkinson."
The flowers represent hope for Mayella; even in her ugly life, she has something that she can look at that shows her some kind of hope. She was a young girl who I am sure had hopes and dreams for her future, but knowing who she was, realized that her future was a bleak one. The geraniums give her a reminder that no matter how ugly your life is, there can be beauty found. Unfortunately, Mayella didn't see that beauty. She was beaten horribly and taken advantage of. She wanted so badly for someone to show her some kind of attention that she accused Tom of a horrible crime when he refused her. All the hope the flowers represent is nothing compared to her dismal reality.
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