What are the symbols and their representations in "The Flowers," by Alice Walker? What is the significance of the word flowers in the title?

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One of the most important symbols in Alice Walker's short story "The Flowers" is Myop's "family's sharecropper cabin." Myop is described as walking away from the dirt road of the cabin to the stream behind the house and deeper into the woods beyond the stream. In addition, while taking this walk, Myop is described as being extremely happy. The story is set during the final days of summer when the harvest begins, and in Myop's mind, these final days of summer are the most beautiful ever, especially because the scents of the harvest excite her as if each new day holds a "golden surprise." Yet, the image of a sharecropper cabin is an extremely sorrowful image; it's an image tied to extreme poverty, a black man's continued subordination to white masters despite the end of slavery, the denial of education needed for a black man to break these chains of subordination, and racism, making the image of a sharecropper cabin symbolic of poverty, subordination, and racism. Yet, Myop, at the start of the story, is apparently innocent of an understanding of the extent of her family's suffering. Therefore, the image also foreshadows and symbolizes the suffering and racism she will soon come to understand as she leaves her childhood innocence behind.

In the woods, Myop strays a mile from home gathering wildflowers. She is just starting to head home when she discovers the corpse of a hanged man. Myop notices the noose that serves as evidence of a lynch mob hanging the moment she sees a single wild rose. In describing the wild rose, author Walker intentionally creates a very incongruous image. Walker describes Myop as picking the rose and seeing "a raised mound, a ring, around the rose's root." The problem is that wild roses do not grow from single rooted stems; they grow from bushes. Yet, Walker has intentionally chosen not to mention the bush. The incongruous image of the wild rose helps the reader see that the members of the lynch mob used the wild rose in mockery of life and that, in the story,...

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