Toth’s intent in writing the autobiography of the formative years of her life is neither to glorify life in a small Midwestern town nor to produce a journalistic report of facts and events of her maturation. It is, instead, more generic and more cosmic. The mere title of her book, Blooming, is indicative of both her metaphoric and her representational goals. The italicized introduction to the first chapter presents an important metaphor: Toth’s garden is compared with that of a friend, for both of them succeed in yielding flowers, even though the friend plants haphazardly and carelessly, while Toth gives great attention to the layout and care of her garden. She develops that idea into a useful analogy about her life: “When I look at the time, the town, the customs, the people who surrounded me when I was growing up, I cannot wish I had been nurtured in a different place. It was the only garden I knew.” The metaphor of growing up as a type of blooming recurs throughout the book and connotes potential, possibility, anticipation, and promise. For example, during a rare shopping excursion to a large department store in Des Moines, she is charmed to find “a new strain [of white blouse] blooming in an overlooked corner.” On a chilly May Saturday, her mother helps her gather blooms of wildflowers to fill May baskets. Describing preparations and events of an important holiday, Toth records donning gaily colored clothes on Easter Sunday even when the...
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