Incident in a Rose Garden Questions and Answers
by Donald Justice

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In "Incident in a Rose Garden" the author describes how Death pinches off blooms, or petals, of a rose and drops them all around him. What possible symbolic meaning could there be in this gesture?

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In poetry and literature, plants are often used to symbolize life. In fact, thinking about human life as a plant is a conceptual metaphor (see Lakoff and Turner or the link below for an explanation of conceptual metaphor). In short, a conceptual metaphor is one that needs little explanation because it is commonly used and built into our way of thinking. Consider referring to someone who is "green" to mean young or inexperienced, in the same way that an unripe fruit or unflowered plant might be green. We also refer to someone as "cut down in the springtime of youth" in the way that a...

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