Flowers: Short Story and War Essay

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Robin Jenkins effectively conveys loss of innocence and ant war through sophisticated symbolism in the short story “Flowers”. It tells the story of a young girl, Margaret, who was evacuated from the city of Glasgow to the highlands of Scotland in an attempt to avoid the inhumanity of war, but it is in the highlands where she truly witnessed the brutality of war.

The character of Miss Laing is used to show the glamour of war. At the beginning of the story Miss Laing is portrayed as a very harsh teacher but as the airmen fly over, we she her personality completely change. She is very patriotic and she cares for and treasures the airmen. She refers to them as “flowers” as she thinks that they are amazing and that everyone
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Jenkins, very cleverly, uses a simile to enhance our image of the countryside by describing the way in which the heather is moving. It looks like a see, flowing, engulfing everything around it like her anger.

The snake symbolises evil and temptation and the German propaganda. “On a rock lay neatly coiled a small adder, green with gold and black zigzag markings”
The snake is harmless, minding its own business and is no threat to Margaret but she goes on to attack it because she had been told by Miss Laing that they are dangerous. This is therefore like the anti-German propaganda fed to the British public during the war. There are also biblical links in the relation to the snake as Adam and Eve were tempted by the devil in the form of a snake in Genes. Now Margaret has been tempted to disobeying Miss Laing.

When Margaret first encounters the airmen she became a bit suspicious so moved closer. It was then she saw the reality of war. “One of the airmen, with fair hair, had no face at all; while the others face was half gone”
She refers to the airmen’s fair hair, stressing the youth of the airmen and their innocence but now they are dead. It represents the inhumanity of war as the airmen were still youthful and innocent and there was no need for their lives to be taken.

Directly after the incident with the snake Margaret finds a yellow flower at her feet. “Moved her instead to stoop, tenderly pluck it, and hold
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