Alice Walker's "The Flowers" tells the timeless initiation story of a child's struggle with loss of innocence. In reading this story, one of the most important aspects in fully grasping the central point is acknowledging and understanding its use of symbolism. Through a series of several symbols Walker creates a vivid illustration of Myop's journey from the innocence of childhood to the grim realities of life.
From the very beginning of the story we are introduced to imagery representative of deeper meanings. The time of year is summer and the overall attitude of summer must be considered in establishing its significance in "The Flowers". Most people, especially children, tend to view summertime with a carefree mind-set. This widespread view of summer as synonymous with light-heartedness exemplifies how the summer itself represents the trouble free, outlook on life that Myop and most children hold.Just as the summer represents the ideas of innocence in a child, Myop herself represents the physical and mental ideas of most young children. She tends to be oblivious to the world outside of her own mind. Myop is the center of her own universe and is ignorant to the reality of life different from her own. Even the name Myop (a shortened version of the word, myopia, meaning lack of insight) provides a symbol of childhood ideals. The quote, "She felt light and good in the warm sun. She was ten and nothing existed for her but her song, the stick clutched in her dark brown hand, and the tat-de-ta-ta-ta of accompaniment," (Walker 73) provides example of one of the many times that Walker speaks of Myop's oblivion.
Another symbol of innocence is the flowers that Myop so happily picks. Flowers tend to be a universal symbol for joy and life and Myop gravitates toward these life signs as a way of ignoring the cold fact that life is not always joyous. She is trying desperately to hang on to her childhood innocence, and we find that she clings to these flowers...