The Flowers By Alice Walker

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					"The Flowers" by Alice Walker
from Reading and Writing about Short Fiction. Ed. Edward
     Proffitt. NY: Harcourt, 1988. 404-05.

It seemed to Myop as she skipped lightly from hen house to
pigpen to smokehouse that the days had never been as
beautiful as these. The air held a keenness that made her
nose twitch. The harvesting of the corn and cotton, peanuts
and squash, made each day a golden surprise that caused
excited little tremors to run up her jaws.

  1. Describe the atmosphere that Walker creates in this
     paragraph and HOW she does so.
  2. What words or names jump out at you? Why?
  3. What questions (if any) do you have about your reading
     so far?

Myop carried a short, knobby stick. She struck out at
random at chickens she liked, and worked out the beat of a
song on the fence around the pigpen. 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.

  4. Based on Walker’s description, what do you KNOW about
     Myop? What can you INFER? Explain.
  5. What questions (if any) do you have about your reading
     so far?
  6. What questions (if any) can you now answer?

Turning her back on the rusty boards of her family's
sharecropper cabin, Myop walked along the fence till it ran
into the stream made by the spring. Around the spring,
where the family got drinking water, silver ferns and
wildflowers grew. Along the shallow banks pigs rooted. Myop
watched the tiny white bubbles disrupt the thin black scale
of soil and the water that silently rose and slid away down
the stream.

  7. Note the images Walker employs in this paragraph. What
     do you notice about the imagery used?
  8. What questions (if any) do you have about your reading
     so far?
  9. What questions (if any) can you now answer?
She had explored the woods behind the house many times.
Often, in late autumn, her mother took her to gather nuts
among the fallen leaves. Today she made her own path,
bouncing this way and that way, vaguely keeping an eye out
for snakes. 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.

  10.    Note the first sentence of this paragraph. What
    does that establish?
  11.    What is the symbolic association of the seasons in
    the second sentence?
  12.    What is the relationship between the first
    sentence of the paragraph and the sentence that begins,
    “Today she made her own path….”
  13.    Note the imagery of the final sentence. How is it
    similar to or different from the imagery used in
    earlier paragraphs?
  14.    What questions (if any) do you have about your
    reading so far?
  15.    What questions (if any) can you now answer?


By twelve o'clock, her arms laden with sprigs of her
findings, she was a mile or more from home. She had often
been as far before, but the strangeness of the land made it
not as pleasant as her usual haunts. It seemed gloomy in
the little cove in which she found herself. The air was
damp, the silence close and deep.

  16.    What is the significance of the time?
  17. Note Walker’s diction in this paragraph. How would
    you characterize it? What is the effect of that
    diction?
  18.    What questions (if any) do you have about your
    reading so far?
  19.    What questions (if any) can you now answer?
Myop began to circle back to the house, back to the
peacefulness of the morning. It was then she stepped smack
into his eyes. Her heel became lodged in the broken ridge
between brow and nose, and she reached down quickly,
unafraid, to free herself. It was only when she saw his
naked grin that she gave a little yelp of surprise.

  20.    What is Myop trying to do in the first sentence,
    both literally and figuratively? Why is this ironic?
  21.    What do you think Myop finds?
  22.    What is the verb tense of the last sentence?
  23.    What questions (if any) do you have about your
    reading so far?
  24.    What questions (if any) can you now answer?


He had been a tall man. From feet to neck covered a long
space. His head lay beside him. When she pushed back the
leaves and layers of earth and debris Myop saw that he'd
had large white teeth, all of them cracked or broken, long
fingers, and very big bones. All his clothes had rotted
away except some threads of blue denim from his overalls.
The buckles of the overall had turned green.

  25.    What is the verb tense of the first sentence?
    What does this indicate?
  26.    What is the verb tense of the second sentence?
    How does this compare to the tense utilized by Walker
    in the rest of the parapgraph (including the firs
    sentence)?
  27.    What questions (if any) do you have about your
    reading so far?
  28.    What questions (if any) can you now answer?


Myop gazed around the spot with interest. Very near where
she'd stepped into the head was 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. Around an overhanging limb of a
great spreading oak clung another piece. Frayed, rotted,
bleached, and frazzled--barely there--but spinning
restlessly in the breeze. Myop laid down her flowers.


  29.    Discuss the incongruity of Myop’s finding. How
    does the diction and/or imagery used contribute to the
    incongruity of Myop’s finding?
  30.    How doe the diction employed in this paragraph
    compare to the diction utilized elsewhere in the story?
  31.    What questions (if any) do you have about your
    reading so far?
  32.    What questions (if any) can you now answer?




And the summer was over.

  33.    What symbolic meaning might the final
    sentence/paragraph have given the context of the story?
  34.    What is the turning point of the story?
  35.    Look up both “myope” and “myopathy”. Which
    definition(s) seem to be appropriate within the context
    of the story? Explain.
  36.    What questions (if any) do you have about your
    reading so far?
  37.    What questions (if any) can you now answer?

				
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