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Essay: “The Flowers” by Alice Walker/The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin (1894)

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  • Subject area(s): Literature essays
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  • Published: 14 July 2022*
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  • Words: 1,564 (approx)
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“The Flowers” by Alice Walker

1a. The first detail I noticed was in paragraph two when the narrator said, “She felt light and good in the warm sun.” I felt this phrase was significant to the story because it shows how innocent and good Myop’s perception of the world is. She felt good when the sun was out and shining on her; however, later on in the story when the sun goes away, she experiences something terrible. In this scene, the sun could be used to represent innocence.

1b. The second detail is “The air was damp, the silence close and deep.” This quote sets the scene for what is to happen next and foreshadows something bad happening. The story begins with the air having a “keenness”, but later transforms into damp and gloomy. This provides the shift in setting for the plot.

1c. The third detail is “Her heel became lodged in the broken ridge between brow and nose, and she reached down quickly, unafraid, to free herself.” This quote shows that Myop wasn’t exactly afraid as a normal person would be after they step into a dead man’s skull, but was just shocked. She was unafraid to free herself because she is just a little girl and doesn’t really understand what happened there.

1d. The fourth detail is “As she picked it to add to her bundle she noticed a raised mound, a ring, around the rose’s root.” This quote shows how although Myop had just stepped into a dead man’s head, she didn’t know what to make of the situation so she just resumed picking flowers. Then as she picked up the rose, she realized what happened to the man and then acted differently.

1e. The fifth detail is “Myop laid down her flowers.” This quote truly shows the difference in character from Myop in the beginning of the story to Myop at the end. Her experience of this traumatic event has caused her to have a new way of looking at things in her life. She laid down the flowers out of respect for the man who she presumed, had been killed. She then realized that the world isn’t always sunshine and flowers, but can be an extremely dark and terrible place.

2. The short story takes place outside of a farm during the summer. I deduced it was a farm because of the “hen house to pigpen to smokehouse” and “harvesting of the corn and cotton, peanuts and squash”, as stated in the first paragraph. The story takes place in the American south because of the narrator’s mention of sharecropping.

3. In the 3rd paragraph, the narrator mentions that Myop lives in a sharecropper’s cabin. Sharecropping was created during the Reconstruction period after the Civil War and was when poor African Americans would live and work on white people’s land in exchange for some of the food they harvested. This was basically a way to get around slavery and was common after the Civil War ended until the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The story is taking place in the American South after the Civil War and the man who was found dead was most likely an African American who was killed by white people, which explains the broken teeth.

4. Myop is a little girl who is in her own world. She doesn’t really see what is going on around her but chooses to focus her attention on gathering flowers and harvesting peanuts. After searching Myop on google to attempt to find some historical background on the name, I was greeted with a condition called Myopia, which means nearsightedness (which I have unfortunately). This ties in with Myop because she only chooses to see things in her life that are close to her but is blinded to the bigger picture of what is going on in the United States. Myop is still young, which means she most likely hasn’t experienced slavery, which is why she is oblivious to the concept when she meets the dead man.

5. The other person, the dead person, is most likely an African American man who has been killed by white people. Considering his head wasn’t attached to his body, this man may have been lynched by a group of white men, which also explains the broken teeth. Taking place in the era of the Jim Crow Laws, the lynchings of African American men was very common including that of Emmett Till. This unidentified man is extremely similar to that of Emmett Till, who was also lynched to the point that he was unrecognizable. As previously stated, Myop lives in a time where sharecropping is happening, and therefore, there are Jim Crow Laws and lynchings of African Americans. This dead man was most likely killed and left there to rot away.

6. I believe the last sentence is very important in showing Myop’s change over the course of the story. In the beginning she starts as a girl who is oblivious to what’s going on around her and is under the impression that everyone’s world is just like hers, sunny and beautiful. Later on when she stumbles across the dead man’s body, she is introduced the idea that the world isn’t perfect and that not everyone lives the same as her. When she came to this realization, she laid the flower down because she understood the circumstances under which the dead man lives through, which ended up changing her way of looking at the world. When it says “And the summer was over,” this is to represent her change. She starts off having fun in the summer sun but then transitions into staring into the lifeless body of a dead man. Summer was over and she now truly understands how the world is.

The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin (1894)

1. This story is a metaphor of human reliance on one another and the importance of autonomy. In the beginning of the story when Mrs. Mallard is told the news that her husband has died, she begins grieving like a normal person; however, when she goes to a private room, she begins to realize that she now can be independant and not live her life focused on her husband. She even began to utter the words “free, free, free,” showing how she was done focusing her life on the past and began living in the present. Mrs. Mallard cherishes independance now that she has been granted a moment without being responsible for others. Prior to her death, she reached the epiphany that she was now able to live her life to the fullest and there was noone to stop her from doing that.

2. From the beginning, it is said that Mrs. Mallard has a bad heart. This could be told to foreshadow the end of the story when her heart gives up on her. Her heart trouble could be both her physical heart and her internal heart, the heart that is telling her to live a good life and not have worries for others. When she realized that she is now independent and free to do whatever she may desire, her heart got much better. “Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body.” At the end of the story when Brently, her husband who wasn’t dead, entered the room, she realized that she is not independant and no longer has the same freedom to live her life the way she wants because she her husband is still in the picture, so she dies.

3. During 1894, fifteen years before women gained the right to vote, I think there were protests for women’s suffrage. These protests may have brought out the woman’s need for independence. Prior to the protests, women lives their lives according to the men; however, I feel like this story shows how women need to be allowed to live their lives freely. I believe this story signifies the first feminist movements of the 1960s and 1970s when women demanded equal rights as men through their protests. Mrs Mallard does not like the concept of marriage because both husband and wife end up controlling the other person’s life instead of letting them roam free. “There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature,” which furthermore shows the significant impact marriage has on the development of human life.

4. The last sentence is ironic because the doctor says “she had died of heart disease–of the joy that kills,” which is saying that she was extremely joyous when her husband returned, which is most likely the opposite of what actually happened. When her husband returned, she was robbed from the freedom to pursue her free life without limitations and realized that she was going to be stuck in her old life again. Prior to her husband’s reveal, she was the happiest person she could be because she was no longer going to be held back by her husband; however, once her husband returned, she lost all hope and so did her heart. The irony is that she didn’t die of joy, she died of sadness.

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