How does Alice Walker use literary techniques and elements to create a complex character in “The Flowers”?

Alice Walker creates the complex character of Myop in “The Flowers” through literary techniques and elements including narrative, imagery, foreshadowing, tone, and metaphor.

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In her story “The Flowers,” Alice Walker creates a complex character in Myop by using a variety of literary techniques and elements. The narrative remains focused on the little girl and offers her unique, but limited perspective. Her name evokes short-sightedness or myopia, a condition linked with her innocence, which is abruptly ended as the story develops. Although Walker uses an unnamed third-person narrator, this narrator primarily speaks from Myop’s perspective. The child’s carefree attitude is revealed through imagery, such as her attitude toward a summer day when she is free to appreciate the “golden sunshine” that illuminates the farm and surrounding fields.

The imagery and the child’s actions and attitudes are well matched. Walker’s images draw on other senses, not just vision. Myop is not only carefree in appreciating her environment but also creative, as she devotes her energies to making music: “nothing existed for her but her song.” The senses of touch and smell are also evoked, as the girl’s fingers stroke the “velvety ridges” of the blue flowers and detect the aroma of “fragrant buds.”

Walker uses foreshadowing to indicate the story may take a different direction. As Myop walks, she shows some caution, “vaguely keeping an eye out for snakes.” The danger of a possible bite hints of other possible negative events, and the sinuous form of a snake also foreshadows the rope she will later find. The connection to her personal development is indicated by her unique experience of making her own path that day.

A change in tone is marked as Myop loses her way. As she gets farther from home, her solitude is matched by the unpleasant novelty of the “gloomy … little cover,” which is strange and unlike her customary “haunts.” This change signals Myop’s unpleasant discovery. In using Myop’s perspective, Walker makes the reader share her first thought, that a stranger’s eyes are looking at her.

Finally Walker uses a metaphor comparing the seasons to human development. She indicates the profound transformation effected by the child’s discoveries. Never again able to blithely enjoy the warm sunny weather, from learning first-hand about lynching, Myop’s innocence has ended: “And the summer was over.”

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