“The Flowers” Summary
“The Flowers” is a 1973 short story about a ten-year-old girl named Myop who experiences a loss of innocence one summer day.
- Myop happily wanders through the area around the sharecropper’s cabin where her family lives, picking wildflowers as she walks into the woods.
- A mile into the forest, Myop tries to turn around, but her foot becomes stuck in the skull of a dead man whose body is decaying there.
- Myop initially reacts with innocent fascination, but when she notices the broken noose nearby, she lays her armful of flowers beside the man’s body.
Last Updated on July 28, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 441
Ten-year-old Myop is enjoying a bright summer day. Her family lives in a sharecropper’s cabin, and she is out exploring the area around the house. It is harvesting season, and Myop is delighted by the scents that suffuse the air. She carries a stick around the yard, using it to antagonize the farm animals and tap out the beats of a song. She feels “light and good,” and the world is infused with a sense of “golden surprise.”
Myop continues her journey by following the fence line toward a stream. The stream originates from the same spring from which Myop’s family fetch their water. Small wildflowers grow along its banks. After watching the stream for a moment, Myop turns toward the forest that grows behind her family’s “rusty” cabin. She has explored these woods before, and her mother has previously taken her out to search for the nuts that fall from the trees in autumn. Today, however, Myop is alone. She forges her own path into the forest, “bouncing” along aimlessly as she enjoys her day. She picks wildflowers, eventually acquiring an armful of whatever catches her eye.
Once Myop’s arms are full, she realizes that she has wandered over a mile away from her home. She has been this far before, but she is struck by the sudden unpleasantness of the area of forest in which she has found herself. The air feels “damp,” and there is an eerie silence. She begins her journey back home but is halted when she steps onto the decaying face of a corpse. Her foot is stuck in the dead man’s eye socket. Not realizing what she has stepped in, Myop reaches down to free herself, only to be shocked and startled by the sight of the dead man’s smile.
Myop observes that the man had been tall. His head is now separated from the rest of his body, and she brushes aside the pile of leaves obscuring the rest of his face. The man’s clothes have worn away except for some patches of faded denim from his overalls, indicating that his body has been in the woods for quite some time. Myop is initially fascinated by this discovery, and she goes to pick a beautiful pink rose that is growing near the corpse. However, she then notices the partial remains of a noose around the roots of the rose. The other half of the noose still hangs from a tree, “spinning restlessly in the breeze.” Myop lays down the flowers she has been collecting, and the innocent joys of her youthful summer come to an end.