What does Myop's name add to the other features of her characterization in "The Flowers" by Alice Walker?

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"Myop" is an unusual name and perhaps is short for "Myopia," which is the condition of being near-sighted. We're not given any information about Myop's name; perhaps it was chosen because the word sounded pretty. It's also possible that her parents didn't know what it meant.

Walker's choice of name for her character is significant because it reinforces a central theme of this short piece: Myop, unable to see the "larger picture" of her life as a sharecropper, concentrates on the small things around her that give her joy—like the flowers, the quality of the air in the morning, and the satisfaction she gets from tapping out a beat with her stick.

Of course the best example of her lack of vision is her stumbling over the corpse of the lynched man. Walker's final line, that "summer is over," is ominous and suggests that Myop's time of happiness is coming to an end.

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"Myop" is a name which seems to have been invented by Alice Walker for the purposes of this story, which gives some indication of how important it is for our understanding. We can see its similarities to the words "myopic" and "myopia," meaning short-sightedness, but perhaps we would do better to consider the Latin words behind these: myein (the verb "to close") and ops (meaning "eye"). Importantly, then, Myop has her eyes closed to the world around her—it is not that she is physically unable to see but rather, that, at the beginning of the story, she is not looking. She doesn't understand the way the world really is, as she does not know anything beyond what is in her immediate vicinity. The climax of the story, then, represents the moment when she opens her eyes—the "summer" of her innocence "was over" with the discovery of the dead man, the noose from a lynching still around his neck. Even before she finds the body, she looks around this area "with interest." Having identified something new, she is now keen to explore and understand. The time of her shortsightedness was already coming to an end, and the discovery of the dead man puts it behind her completely.

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Myop's name looks much like the word myopia, which denotes nearsightedness, and the word myopic, which pertains to being short-sighted, both physically and figuratively.

The young girl of Alice Walker's story who gathers flowers is, indeed, myopic as she focuses mainly upon what is near to her, or what she has done before. Figuratively, she is also narrow in her vision of the realities of life. As the story begins, the narrator describes Myop as carrying a short, knobby stick that she uses to strike at chickens and beat out the melody of a song on the fence. With this stick, she walks along the fence of the family's farm on which they are sharecroppers. 

She had explored the woods behind the house many times. . . Today she made her own path. . . [and] found. . . an armful of strange blue flowers with velvety ridges and a sweet suds bush full of the brown, fragrant buds.

After gathering flowers for some time, Myop begins to "circle back" to her home, but in her myopia she unexpectedly "stepped smack into his eyes." Her heel becomes wedged somehow in the broken skull of a dead man. Unafraid, Myop reaches down to free her foot. When she sees the "naked grin" of death on this skull, Myop utters "a little yelp of surprise," and she "gazed around the spot with interest." She is distracted by a pink rose, though, and moves to pick it up and add it to her bundle.

It is only when Myop realizes the dead man has been murdered that her mental vision expands to comprehend the horrible act that has been committed. She has seen the evidence of hatred and bigotry. Myop lays down her flowers, symbolic of her innocence. "And the summer was over."

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