What do flowers represent in August Wilson's Fences? How does Rose embody the symbolism of flowers?

In August Wilson's Fences, flowers symbolize beauty, honor, and love. Gabriel gives Rose the flower that bears her name out of love and respect for her. Rose feels like a flower that has failed to bloom when she plants herself in Troy, yet she exhibits all the love that the flower that is her name symbolizes.

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Flowers are directly mentioned twice in August Wilson's play Fences. Both times, Gabriel hands Rose a flower, a rose, just like her name. He says, “That's the same rose like you is!” In Gabriel's mind, the flower in his hand, with all its beauty, symbolizes the beautiful nature of his sister-in-law, and he uses the flower to show her honor and love.

Later in the play, Rose indirectly refers to flowers when she argues with Troy after discovering that he has been having an affair. When he tries to explain that his mistress makes him laugh and feel good and forget his responsibilities, Rose retorts, “What about my life? What about me.” She asks him if he ever thought that perhaps she might want to forget her responsibilities or have someone to make her laugh, too. But she has never sought another. Instead, she says, “I planted myself inside you and waited to bloom.” She has remained faithful for eighteen years, but she feels like a flower seed that has never bloomed in the “hard and rocky” soil that is Troy.

Rose herself, however, embodies the symbolism of the flower that is her name. In western culture, the rose, especially the red rose, symbolizes love, and Rose has a great deal of love. No matter how hurt she is by Troy, she still loves him. She has put up with eighteen years of his hang-ups, always putting his needs before her own, wanting the very best for him and then helping him achieve that best as much as she can. Even after Rose finds out about Troy's infidelity, she remains with him. Their relationship changes, but she stays faithful. Rose still loves Troy.

Rose's love extends so far as to embrace the child Troy has with his mistress. When the baby's mother dies, Rose adopts the little girl as her own. She knows that the child is not at fault for what her parents have done, and she becomes Raynell's mother out of her great love. Indeed, Rose's name fits her perfectly.

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