What is the significance of the final sentence "and the summer was over" in Alice Walker's short story The Flowers?
The protagonist of Alice Walker's short story The Flowers is an innocent, playful 10-year-old African American girl named Myop, a particularly unusual name derived from the word "myopia," or short-sighted. As Walker's story progresses, she propels Myop through a daily routine involving life's little summertime pleasures, such as playing in fields, picking flowers, and just enjoying the warmth of the day. Walker emphasizes her protagonist's innocence and joy, writing "The harvesting of the corn and cotton, peanuts and squash, made each day a golden surprise that caused excited little tremors to run up her jaws." Myop's adventures continue to occupy her day, but Walker's narrative begins to take a decidedly ominous turn, as the young girl wanders further from home:
"By twelve o'clock, her arms laden with sprigs of her findings, she was a mile or more from home. 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. The air was damp, the silence close and deep."
With this transition from the known and comfortable to the unknown and increasingly frightening, Walker is taking her protagonist through an evolutionary process defined by the seasons. Summer is synonymous with play and warmth but, as everyone knows, seasons change and summer will most assuredly come to an end. That end is marked by the girl's discovery that she has stumbled upon the remains of a lynched black man. This discovery marks the end of Myop's innocence and, metaphorically-speaking, the end of the season of fun and innocence. The realities of the world in which she lives have caught up to her, and Walker's final sentence, "and the summer was over," is intended to emphasize that loss of innocence.