What lesson is Walker trying to get the reader to learn in "The Flowers"?

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Walker's brief and haunting story suggests that appearances are deceiving.  Myop is a happy young child enjoying a summer's day.  She is skipping through the woods, carrying flowers, and enjoying life.  However, there are many suggestions early on that this pleasant scene isn't all its cracked up to be.  First, we have Myop "vaguely keeping an eye out for snakes", suggesting that the woods can be dangerous.  To reinforce that, Myop finds herself in a new spot in the woods, and is unsettle by it:

She had often been as far before, but the strangeness of the land made it not as pleasant as her usual haunts. It seemed gloomy in the little cove in which she found herself.

It is after this that Myop finds the skeleton.  Not only the discovery, but also the implications associated with this particular skeleton support that deception of appearances.  The skeleton appears to be smiling, but clearly this man was the victim of a lynching, suggesting a violent and unpleasant life.  The warn clothing of the man suggests a worker, very possibly a slave.  While the stereotype of the "smiling slave" has existed for centuries, that appearance is false.  Life for slaves wa dangerous and full of fear.

Myop is clearly not living in a time of slavery, but the fact that her family lives in a sharecropper's cabin connects her with that time, suggesting that her life will not as pleasant as her childhood suggests.

laconic-platonic | Student

Alice Walker is in short showing that life is not a sugar coated as it seems. The man that she finds was probably lynched which is what happened to blacks when racism and slavery was more prevalent, also explains why he was found so far in the woods. The rose that blossoms from the noose represents the life that can be born from these tragedies. Myop's name is also a key detail because Myopic means the lack of foresight, discernment, or a narrow view of something. She's just a young girl who has stumbled upon a mans body. When she lays down her flowers that represents the innocence that is taken from her by the experience. It isn't life changing but it shows that in good vs. evil good doesn't always win but from the fallen comes new life, in some form.