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‘Flowers’ by Robin Jenkins is a short story about a young girl who has been evacuated to
the Highlands during WW2 and dislikes it so much that she decides to break the rules.
She rebels by going to the beach where the fighter jets practise bombing and finds a
gruesome scene. This short story deals with a less pleasant side of life concerned with
the consequences of war and the loneliness of the main character Margaret. In this essay
I will show unpleasant life can be.
Robin Jenkins first shows you how different the little girl is, “red eyed dissenter”. This
shows that the little girl could be angry or has maybe been crying. I think Jenkins has
used ‘dissenter’ to identify Margaret as different from everyone else suggesting her
loneliness and isolation from the others. Loneliness is a theme throughout ‘Flowers’
which shows that life can be very unpleasant especially if you are alone.
The theme of loneliness continues when, after Miss Laing tells the children to go pick
flowers they all “scamper off” but the little girl doesn’t. Instead she goes and stands
under the “shadow of a tall pine”. The word ‘scamper’ is used to slow that the children
don’t have a care in the world, whereas I think that Margaret does. The ‘shadow of the
tall pine’ is used to develop the intensity of her loneliness by showing that she is
overwhelmed in darkness. Here the use of imagery makes the theme of loneliness even
Her loneliness is further developed when she sees a boy talking Gaelic and she doesn’t
understand it “mysterious and hateful to her Lowland ears”. This suggests that her
loneliness is building into anger and frustration. The words ‘mysterious’ and ‘hateful’
shows that her loneliness has made her feel angry inside. This is when the theme begins
to be least pleasant, when you get so lonely that you become dark and angry which makes
things a lot worse.
Imagery is used successfully throughout ‘Flowers’ and an example of this is the “yellow
flower”. The flower exudes beauty and innocence, reminding Margaret of herself but
more worryingly it also reminds her of her own loneliness as it is the only flower
amongst all the tall bracken.
Imagery is used again when the girl sees the adder “on a rock…neatly coiled”. This also
makes the girl think of herself and her own situation because it represent how isolated she
feels from her peers and her surroundings.
The most powerful example of imagery is “while the other face was half gone what
remained was unrecognisable as human”. The word ‘unrecognisable as human’ are very
powerful as they suggest that war is inhumane due to all the useless waste of life. This
brings out the main theme of war and shows how unpleasant this can be.
Robin Jenkins depicts unpleasantness in his short story ‘Flowers’ by using theme and