Describe how nature itself plays a role in "Royal Beatings" as a character.

In “Royal Beatings,” nature plays a role as a character of “other” or a world outside of Rose’s dismal home that's dominated by her cruel stepmother, Flo. Hints of nature are connected with Rose’s late mother as well as her father away from Flo and the house. Rose herself has a nature that grows “like a prickly pineapple.” Rose and her father bond over their appreciation of a symbol of nature—the planet Venus—from which Flo is excluded.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Nature plays a role in the short story “Royal Beatings” as an alternative world to the oppressive domestic world in which Rose lives with her abusive stepmother, Flo.

Rose—like her namesake, the flower—is a lively contrast to the depressing and violent household she shares with her father, Flo,...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Nature plays a role in the short story “Royal Beatings” as an alternative world to the oppressive domestic world in which Rose lives with her abusive stepmother, Flo.

Rose—like her namesake, the flower—is a lively contrast to the depressing and violent household she shares with her father, Flo, and her stepbrother, Brian. When Rose was a baby, her natural mother died from a blood clot in her lung which felt like a “boiled egg in [her] chest.” Rose’s only physical reminders of her mother are

some eggcups her mother had bought, with a pattern of vines and birds on them, delicately drawn as if with red ink; the pattern was beginning to wear away. No books or clothes or pictures of her mother remained. Her father must have got rid of them, or else Flo would.

Objects of nature—eggs, vines, and birds—represent her lost mother and a past world which Rose no longer occupies. In the shed away from Flo and the house, Rose’s father keeps “records of the weather, bits of information about the garden,” like new potatoes, “clouds of ash from forest fires,” thunderstorms, lightning, and strawberries. He also notes “Spinoza” which Flo mistakes for a vegetable like broccoli or eggplant.

Rose does not get along with her stepmother, Flo. Exacerbating their animosity further is Rose’s development. “Rose’s nature was growing like a prickly pineapple” which clashes with Flo. Although Rose is beaten by her father—at Flo’s manipulative command—Rose and her father have a relationship that is separate from and outside of Flo and their home. Near the end of the story, Rose recalls a summer evening when her father tells them about the planet Venus. Although it looked like a bright star, other men thought it

was in reality an airship hovering over Bay City, Michigan, on the other side of Lake Huron. An American invention, sent up to rival the heavenly bodies. They were all in agreement about this, the idea was congenial to them. They believed it to be lit by ten thousand electric light bulbs.

Her father vehemently disagreed with popular opinion and knew it was the planet Venus. Flo immediately sides with her father, calling the other men

“Ignoramuses,” said Flo. At which Rose knew, and knew her father knew, that Flo had never heard of the planet Venus either.

Rose bonds with her father because they share knowledge of and both have a connection to nature that Flo lacks. She remains separate from them and their love of nature. Yet another symbol from nature—the planet Venus—plays the role of “other” or an alternate world to which Rose can mentally escape from her cruel home that is dominated by her stepmother, Flo.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on