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Flower Symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
by

Lisa LaPlante

on 17 March 2015

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Transcript of Flower Symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird

Flower Symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird
The "poor-man's rose"
Tend to smell like cats
Hardy; resilient
Mrs. Dubose- Camellia
Mrs. Dubose is characterized as an elderly, sick and cranky woman.
She is confined to a wheelchair and inspires rage and fear.
She is known to yell slurs and insults at Jem and Scout.
She insults Atticus, and Jem goes crazy, cutting off the tops of her camellias.
Miss Maudie Atkinson- Azalea
The Finches’ neighbor, a sharp-tongued widow, and an old friend of the family.
Miss Maudie uses her sharp tongue to counter meanness rather than to perpetrate it.
Jem and Scout count Miss Maudie as a friend because, unlike most adults, she treats them with respect.
Miss Maudie's equal-opportunity respect extends to African-Americans.
Takes a lot of time caring for her azaleas.
Mayella Ewell- Geranium
Miss Maudie refused to grow geraniums.
Mayella assumed to be like her family= ugly, shiftless, and trashy—they even live by a dump. But when she takes the stand, she represents something else entirely: a flower of "Southern womanhood."
Mayella cares for them in six chipped enamel slop jars.
Only living and beautiful "thing" at the house.
Camellias are the state flower of Alabama.
Deep roots
Grows rapidly; tall like a weed; thrives in acidic soil
Hard to kill; must be attacked by its roots

Symbolism of Camellia
Represents the deeply-rooted racism in the South.
Mrs. Dubose is "infected" with the usual disease of Maycomb.
Racism cannot be eradicated until you get at its roots.
Single camellia left to Jem after Mrs. Dubose dies could represent reconciliation or that even after her death, racism still exists- similarly to Tim Johnson - just as dangerous dead as it is alive.
Staple flower of the South
Famous for growing in acidic soil, adverse conditions
Known to blossom all at once
Symbolism of Azalea
Miss Maudie usually has a sunny disposition despite the bitter, acidic prejudice that surrounds her.
She is not easily influenced, but tough and resilient.
Symbolism of Geranium
Though they smell of cats they nevertheless symbolize Mayella's cleanliness (p. 183) and unrequited (unfulfilled) love - the love that never comes her way, and which she tries to force from Tom Robinson.
Poignantly, Mayella grows them in "six chipped‐enamel slop jars," which are intended for human waste.
Like the geranium, she is poor, but stands out from her family. There is something beautiful about her, lonely, and uncared for.
By Mrs. LaPlante
Full transcript