“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. …show more content…
Walker shifts from the delightful imagery used earlier in the text into macabre and straightforward details. “His head lay beside him”, she writes, further stating “he'd had large white teeth, all of them cracked or broken” (Walker 21). The impact on Myop of this situation is palpable because of Walker’s effective use of imagery. Although Walker never outright answers how the man’s teeth were broken or why a rotting noose is found lying next to the body, it is clear what the circumstances of death must have been. The explanation of what has happened to this man lies within what is not explained at all. In other words, the imagery provided is explanation enough. In the end, however, Walker does not digress in her usage of symbolism or imagery. She reserves the most significant symbol of the story for the final two sentences by writing about Myop’s response to her traumatic encounter with death that “Myop laid down her flowers. And the summer was over” which further drives the plot to conclusion (Walker, 21). Erdrich aligns the plot in “The Red Convertible” into a chronological progression of events much like Walker does in “The Flowers”. However, in contrast to “The Flowers”, “The Red Convertible” is a story of one young man’s life with his beloved brother, the loss of his brother to war and subsequent depression, and finally the loss of his brother in death at the end. In Walker’s story, the inclination of an upcoming ominous event is immediately

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