This very short, short story surely packs a punch in the end. The simple title of "The Flowers" starts the reader on a positive note and the majority of the descriptions in the first paragraph seem to carry that forward. But starting even as early as the 2nd paragraph, the reader starts to, perhaps, perceive that not everything is idyllic in the story. Myop travels beyond her usual boundaries, suggesting that she is leaving the known for the unknown. This kind of travel is often a suggestion of loss of innocence. When Myop continues her walk and collects pretty flowers we still think that she is in a state of innocence, but when she picks the pink rose and steps into the human skull, we realize that not only is the skull now shattered, so is her innocence. She is literally looking at the face of death. She lays her flowers down in a gesture of respect for the dead, but, when she looks up and sees what remains of the noose, the last of her innocence is gone. She now realizes that she looking not only at death, but the cruel racial violence of a lynching. The last sentence clearly indicates a complete end of summer, but the meaning is the complete end of innocence for Myop.
The theme was loss of innocence.
In the beginning, Myop, the 10-yr old girl main character of the story sees only the beauty of life, which is represented by the summer in the story.
The summer was described beautifully giving impression to the readers as happy and cool. Myop gathered common ferns.
Then when Myop wandered in the woods in her own way getting farther and farther in their house, she picked strange blue flowers on the way.
These different plants represents the little girl's wants in life. At first she discovers common things that is significant in her childhood days, then by and by, she came to a group of strange flowers which are the things that represents the things we encounter later in our teen age lives. These includes the problems we might possibly encounter and the difficulties that we are about to solve.
Myop continued walking until she stepped on the remains of a man.
Now, if that would happen to you, wouldn't you be afraid? But Myop reacted differently. Instead of being afraid, she just picked the only pink flower beside the skeleton. She wasn't afraid or frightened at the least. She took a hold of something, and that something was maturity. Her loss of innocence was replaced by her gain of maturity.
The story began with summer and it ended as: "Then the summer was over." The summer in the story represents Childhood. Myop's childhood. At first she was only aware of the bright side of things, at the middle of the story, her eyes were slowly being opened by the reality. The reality of having the balance of good and evil, of happiness and sadness, of coolness and gloominess. Alice Walker's style in this story explained these by using contrast.
So yeah, this is my understanding of the story's theme.