“The Flowers” and “The Red Convertible”: Compare and Contrast Essay

“The Flowers” and “The Red Convertible”: Compare and Contrast Essay

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Death is a unique part of life, and loss is an unavoidable result of death. In Alice Walker’s 1973 short story “The Flowers”, childhood loss of innocence and death are illuminated through the experience of a child and her encounter with a dead man in post-slavery America. Louise Erdrich’s 1984 short story “The Red Convertible” is a story of loss in the face of death, set in Vietnam era America. Walker and Erdrich both use strong imagery and symbolism to effectively portray the impact of the common themes of loss and death in both short stories, albeit in different ways.
It is important to note the progression of the plots of both stories, and how imagery and symbolism play an integral role in the development of death and loss as themes. In “The Flowers”, Walker writes a short, nine paragraph account of Myop, a ten year old black girl whose day begins carefree and full of life. In the very first paragraph, Walker sets a tone of wonder and happiness, stating that each day is “a golden surprise” and “the days had never been as beautiful as these” (Walker 20). As Myop sets out on her adventure across the familiar terrain behind her home collecting the flowers alluded to within the title of the story, the imagery begins to shift in subtle ways that foreshadow a looming event. Walker writes,
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 (Walker 21).

In these three short sentences, Walker completely transforms the story. The powerful and persuasive phrasing launches the story forward into the unfortunate conclusion wherein Myop steps on the face of the decom...


... middle of paper ...


...trong usages of imagery, symbolism and the impact of universal themes transcend the impermeable barriers between readers and the written pages. The quintessence of imagery and symbolism culminates within the very titles of the stories, for both contain their symbols within the names “The Flowers” and “The Red Convertible”. The titles are the final written statements the authors give the reader to ponder and reflect upon, again driving home the impact of the loss held within the pages.


Works Cited

Erdrich, Louise. "The Red Corvette." 1984. Approaching Literature: Reading + Thinking + Writing. Ed. Peter Schakel and Jack Ridl. 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012. 126-133. Print.
Walker, Alice. "The Flowers." 1973. Approaching Literature: Reading + Thinking + Writing. Ed. Peter Schakel and Jack Ridl. 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012. 20-21. Print.

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