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Alice Walker’s the Flowers

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Jonas Dibreuis        

Trish Joyce



LIT2000 Final Questions

  1. The three quotes I chose were “Myop laid down her flowers” from Alice Walker’s The Flowers, “Each night I am reluctant to close up because there are people who need the café” from Earnest Hemingway’s A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, and “Should you share the piece of bread of give the whole piece to your sister? […] How long does it take to decide?” from Margaret Atwood’s Bread. I chose these because all three of them speak to the emotionality of the human condition and people’s natural care and respect toward others but can also serve as juxtapositions within these stories between care for yourself and care selflessness. In A Clean, Well-Lighted Place the younger and married waiter cannot empathize with the drunk old man the way the older waiter does and therefore shows no care for his depression. Myop in The Flowers lays down her flowers out of respect for someone who has died, yet that person died because of discrimination and a lack of respect from those around him. Finally, the famine within the second paragraph in Bread shows the internal struggle between trying to survive on your own and trying to help others.
  2. The exposition of the story sees us learning about our main character, Charlie Lavery, and explaining how he got in his current situation. Through Lavery’s interactions with Konala, an inuit woman suffering from tuberculosis he had let fly with him, we know that he was bribed into taking with him. It is made very apparent how little care Lavery shows toward Konala, blaming their situation as a whole on his decision to try and help her. Any attempt to help that Konala makes to assist him, such as give him food, is met with disgust and rage. Konala remains caring and loyal despite this. Konala is unconditionally compassionate, even when met with vehement disrespect, while Charlie in these earlier moments is selfish and spiteful. Both of their personality traits are pushed to their logical extreme, when we see that Lavery decides he would travel and survive better without her getting in his way and leaves her behind, which leads to him collapsing from exhaustion and needing to be saved by her. The climax of the story finally sees Lavery working alongside Konala to fend of a bear and protect both of their lives. Eventually, we get into the falling action of the story, where Konala’s condition is only getting worse and worse. She has little hope of survival and is well aware of this. In a twist of irony, Konala, after making Charlie a new pair of boots, decides to leave him behind in hopes that his survival will not be hindered by him having to carry her and he can find their village and survive. In the resolution, Charlie then uses these boots to memorialize Konala via her people’s methods and find an inuit village.
  3. Normally when we analyze literary works, they are from situations from a vastly  different time period or a situation artificially designed by the author. Therefore, the literary work we’ve read over the course that I reflected on and impacted my critical thinking the most would have to be Cat in the Rain by Ernest Hemingway. The way the story is written makes it so this could take place in virtually any setting and time period. This is crucial because this story made me ponder about then nature of the relationship between my own parents, and many other couples I have been exposed to. They have discussions such as the ones within the story, with lines such as “I get so tired of it” and a similar relationship. Through that context I could connect with and understand both of the characters a lot more. From the American woman’s longing and disappointment, to her husband’s apathy and passiveness. This strengthened my literary appreciation because it showed that story’s can be simple situations that reflect realistic everyday life but still carry a lot of meaning. The struggle between complacency and desire is something I feel as though many people can relate to.
  4. Naomi Shihab Nye’s Famous is a commentary on the nature of fame itself. Via a string of metaphors, she illustrates the relativity of fame itself. This is how most of the poem is set up. The line “The river is famous to the fish,” begins the poem with a peaceful and positive example of fame. But all examples of fame are not this peaceful. Shihab Nye also makes it a point to include negative examples of fame, such as “the loud voice is famous to silence,” Shihab Nye asserts that silence has the overarching power in this relationship, after all silence “knew it would inherit the earth / before anybody said so.” In matters of hunting and being hunted, “The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds / watching him from the birdhouse.” And in matters of two opposites, joy and sadness, “The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.” Some of our smallest actions might remain in the minds of others forever, keeping us famous in memory without our knowledge of such fame. Pulleys and buttonholes in and of themselves are particularly interesting, yet they are something that we all benefit from and their existence and presence within the world can be felt. I feel as though Shihab Nye wanting to be famous in this regard is an allegory on the impact she wants to have on the world. To have her influence be noteworthy and positively remembered.



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