Alice Walker’s The Flowers is a classic coming of age story that explores a young girls transition into adulthood.
Coming of age stories boil down to characters changing from a state of immaturity to maturity.
Before we explore the complexity of The Flowers, we need to explore coming of age stories and the themes that a common for the genre.
We can showcase the following themes to students and explain their importance to the genre.
The Flowers can be read as a confrontation with the adult world. For students to understand this complex concept, they will need to be able to annotate the text.
Provide students with a sample of annotation – it doesn’t have to be the text you are reading. It could be another type of annotation so they’re aware of what theirs should look like.
Now, as the reader, we can interpret on a number of levels. When reading the text, encourage students to look for information that might offer an interpretation. They might look at: character, setting, point of view, word choice and language features.
When we read the text, students can observe the following:
We can observe the contrast between the hopeful day that Myop awakens to before she discovers the remains of a man behind a cottage.
We can acknowledge the sharecroppers house and make historical connections to slavery in the United States.
We can acknowledge that the name Myop means ‘nearsightedness’, which seems to imply that she is unable to see the world for what it is.
After students have completed the annotations, either individually or in pairs, they are ready to make some deeper connections. Below, encourage students to consider which statement best connects to the story.
Draw students attention to specifics parts of the text. Look the importance of the flowers and the symbolism of Myop’s name.
After students have thoroughly explored the broader interpretation of the text, they are now ready to explore how language features are used in the text.
Firstly, revise importance definitions they students need to know.
Provide students with the following table. On the left side, students need to identify the language feature being used. Hint: providing students with quotes gives them a way in to understanding the narrative. Avoid overly complicating the process by making student jump through hoops. Allow them a table like this so they can conceptualise the process of identifying language features.
At still stage, you’re ready to go deeper and allow students to identify what the quote suggests to the reader.
Finally, end the lesson with asking students to consider the meaning of the summer being over. This will cement whether students understand what you have covered in the lesson.