Traces of Identity in the Mirror of the Past

Topics: Alice Walker

“The Flowers” written by Alice Walker represents the effect of death and trauma on children as it strips them of their innocence. This transition from innocence to reality, reveals the importance of adolescence and the inherent happiness that comes with it before Myop is forced to experience death and violence.

It is important to note Walker’s use of irony as Myop grew up on a farm with life all around her such as grass, chickens, cows, and more until she is finally exposed to death later on.

This will ultimately change her perspective as even though her childhood has ended, she still thinks like a child and has racing thoughts almost constantly. A farm symbolizes and displays such life and growth in many different places along with the simple fact of having people like her mother there to protect her. As she journeys on her own for the first time, Walker highlights the significance of her mother figure and that relationship with maintaining her child’s innocence from both violence and racism that is inevitably interrupted.

Walker describes Myop’s curiosity and lack of stress as “She was ten, and nothing existed for her but her song” representing the means of innocence as she adventured through the woods and like most children, couldn’t perceive the world around her regarding both the beauty and violence as even her name can be found in Greek origin meaning “nearsightedness”; reflecting her inability to see the realities of the world around her. Curiosity and good are the most important things in adolescence, which is why this loss of it through death is so devastating for Myop as a young girl.

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Throughout the story, there is pure joy in Myop’s actions, memories, and overall character that should’ve been intact for her adventure, but it is clear how this experience of death ruined that forever as it does for many children.

This can even go further as this experience so young is traumatizing and will follow her for life, portraying the mental and psychological impacts that are separate from the first moment in itself. As this was a rather moderate story, it is still engrained in Myop and will affect her decisions forever in big and small ways, yet this reflects the reality for many kids across the world even today. As kids grow up in gang life, poorer neighborhoods, and many other scenarios, children absorb actions, opinions, and everything in between that is impressionable. Leading to serious psychological issues that are more than likely never addressed as it probably was for Myop and so many more. Death represents the end for so many things and with a depth of regard, children get the essential idea that reality is terrible for children and adults while placed so suddenly and unavoidably.

Walker perfectly represents the ideology of a child with idyllic imagery such as “large white teeth, all of them cracked or broken, long fingers, and very big bones”, to place a foundation for just how serious seeing the hanging was for you. If she found such interest and curiosity in small things such as the nuts and leaves on the ground, it is obvious how this death and specifically how demeaning it was will affect her and her psyche.

Additionally, walker uses foreshadowing to display the calm before the storm seen in so many cases when it comes to death. As death is unexpected Walker uses descriptions like “the white bubble disrupts the thin black scale of soil and the water that silently rose and slid away down the stream” to describe the small yet unsettling things that take place in the background myop before they even happen. Portrays how death tears everything apart and brings a sense of evil with it as it essentially follows Myop through the forest.

Furthermore, As Myop ‘laid down her flowers,’ she represented the end of happiness and childhood, with the dreary skies following her as the day went on. This symbolizes the importance of naivety in children as they are born with such love and care for everyone and everything that is only tainted as life goes on. Leaving her flowers for the man reflected remorse and care from Myop to a man she most likely didn’t know at merely ten years old. Dealing with the trauma that she isn’t necessarily aware of yet; it is important to note that this was her first and essentially only reaction to the scene. Arguing once again for the nurturing nature of children in their innocence.

Lastly, Myop’s adolescence is considered to be a seemingly jovial journey. However, one should recognize that her emotional maturation is not what is critical to her growth. By analyzing her response to each encounter throughout the woods one would see that Myop is cognitive in her decision making. Albeit the most pertinent encounter, is her witnessing a hanged man, revealing that Myop is already someone who has faced trauma in some way, shape, or form. This correlates directly to Walker’s thematic display of importance in venturing out and seeking independence while highlighting the perspective of children as it is usually unorthodox and obscure but brings to life some of the most imaginative and inspiring dreams in life. Myopia can be seen as a symbol for young females everywhere. She is mistaken for a meek and oblivious young girl. Much like most young females throughout history who have been diminished, devalued, or misconstrued with the instrumental vice of gender stereotypes. Myop gives a somber response to seeing a lifeless body by placing her flowers on the ground in front of him. Although this signifies her loss of innocence, it also reveals another side of her personality, calculates a deeper gauge into her character, and even shows a different identity.

In conclusion, Myop represents the importance of childhood and the experiences within it as it shapes us as people and can display that transition from peacefulness to violence in the world much too young. The loss of childhood represents the loss of so many of the good things in life that have to be cherished. The dreams, curiosity, and so much more.

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Traces of Identity in the Mirror of the Past. (2022, May 14). Retrieved from

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