‘The Flowers’ by Alice Walker

In this very short coming-of-age tale, noticing flowers and picking them, and laying them down are an integral part of the action of the protagonist, in as much as the flowers symbolise the loss of innocence. Myop, a ten year old is on a walk when “she found, in addition to various common but pretty ferns and leaves, an armful of strange blue flowers with velvety ridges and a sweet suds bush full of the brown, fragrant buds.” As she continues, she finds a “wild pink rose. As she picked it to add to her bundle she noticed a raised mound, a ring, around the rose’s root. It was the rotted remains of a noose, a bit of shredding plowline, now blending benignly into the soil.” The story, in its brevity and concise detail leaves the reader feeling as uprooted as Myop herself.

First published in Love and Trouble; The stories of Black Women, New York, Harcourt Brace, Jovanovich, 1973. Also in the Collected Stories, W&N, 2005

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