Presentation on theme: "Mockingjays, Dandelions, Tiger Orchids, and Roses: Nature and its Symbolism."— Presentation transcript:
Mockingjays, Dandelions, Tiger Orchids, and Roses: Nature and its Symbolism
Probably the most significant dystopian flowers are the sego lilies of Matched. Theyre described as beautiful white flowers that entrance Cassias plant-loving mother. They cost her her job, send Cassia out on her great adventure, and finally save Society. They are an image of beauty and nourishment but also the farmers rebellion.
Cassia is drawn to flowers and trees as her mother is. Flowers bloomed everywhere in colors we were not allowed to wear: pinks, yellows, reds, almost startling in their boldness. They drew the eye; they scented the air ( Matched 119). In contrast to the three pills are images of nature: sea, sky, plants, grass, red stone or red fish. Cassia treasures a cottonwood seed, with mystery in it after all, in that little brown core. (29). Her romance with Ky develops in the last wilderness, despite the governments attempts to pave it over. Ky teaches her to write with water droplets on leaves, and they bury a poem in the dirt together. The wilderness is where they kiss and declare their love. Cassia describes it as the forest where the trees screen us and the birdcalls cover our voices. The entire Hill is complicit in our embrace. (Matched 274) The government chops down the maple trees because theyre too uneven, like ordinary, natural plants. The saws sound like screams. They also clear and pave a path on the Hill, the last wild place around. By the trilogys end, all memory of the maple trees has been eradicated, and the hill is bulldozed. Burned. Butchered…Theyve killed the Hill ( Reached 183).
Someday all the Wilds will be razed, and we will be left with a concrete landscape…a world of metal and gears, and people going tick tick tick to their deaths ( Pandemonium 288). When she escapes, Hana steps into nature and feels reborn. The air smells like spring, like wet earth and new growth. Birds call in the trees ( Requiem 374) Lena and her mother both race into the wilderness, seeing broad, flat leaves like hands reaching for us ( Delirium 437)
Uglies Graphic novel: Shays Story
Katniss is of course the cattail root, as she tells us. But it is a heavily nourishing plant, important to Katniss who sees herself as the provider for her family. leaves like arrowheads ( Hunger Games 52). Of all the nourishing plants in the world, Katniss is probably the most arrowlikea perfect match for our heroine. The roots dont look like much, but are as nourishing as a potato ( Hunger Games 52). Katniss, from District Twelve, likewise doesnt look like much, but shes just as good, it turns out, as any of the children from the wealthier districts. The plants of the forest are part of Katniss: As long as you can find yourself, youll never starve, her father teases ( Hunger Games 52). While this is literally true, Katniss survives by keeping herself groundedremembering who she is and what she cares for.
Everdeen is also two letters off from evergreen, fitting well with the plant names of the outer districts. Evergreen pines are eaten several times in the series, offering another wholesome plant in a world of starvation. Like the katniss plant, evergreens are sharp and pointed, in this case with rough needles and pinecones to defend themselves. They, like our heroine, thrive in areas of low nutrition. Evergreens symbolize a new beginning and reincarnation of the world into a newer, better year. This is a perfect symbol of Katniss Everdeen, remaker of the world. Suzanne Collins notes, Katniss Everdeen owes her last name to Bathsheba Everdene, the lead character in Far from the Madding Crowd. The two are very different, but both struggle with knowing their hearts (Jordan). Bathsheba, like Katniss, struggles between two such different men, one gentle and chaste and one more violent, temperamental, and experienced in romance.
For Katniss, it will always be, as she says, the dandelion that reminded me that I was not doomed, the single flower she saw blooming in the school yard ( Hunger Games 32). The one she saw in District Twelve was the first dandelion of the spring, and as such, the promise of hope and a season of food for Katniss and her family. Its tiny flower, blooming in the deadened schoolyard of District Twelve, reminds her that nature has power even in the ugliest of places. It gives her the courage to enter the forest alone and there she learns to feed her family. The fiercely jagged tooth shapes bordering its leaves give it its original French name of Dent de Lion, (lions tooth) later corrupted to dandelion. With a bright yellow lions head, it corresponds to Buttercup the cat and so the humble, natural Katniss herself. While its the leaves that are edible as a salad plant, the dandelions milky sap has long associated it with milk and nourishment in peoples minds. There is a folkloric tradition that placing dandelion leaves under a girls pillow will make her dream of her future husband, once again linking Peeta and Katnisss romance through the dandelion that began it all. To Katniss, Peeta is a dandelion, her symbol of hope. Dandelions are as yellow as her candlelight dress, with pointy petals like a suns rays. They resemble a kind of fire, but a tiny, natural, life-sustaining one. They feed people rather than destroying them. Katniss calls him the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses ( Mockingjay 388). And this is what they both mean to her.
Rue is a small yellow flower that grows in the meadow ( HG 99) like the dandelions of hope and survival. The rue is a small, hardy, evergreen plant; like our heroine Katniss, it flourishes with few nutrients. The rue plant was called the death herb as wreaths of it were laid on corpses necks to protect them (echoing Katnisss decorations of flowers). It was called Herb-of-Grace because people sprinkled holy water with its brushes. Rues short life becomes a blessing and grace for Katniss. Its bitter acidic taste created the English verb rue, to sorrow or wish that something had never happened. Katniss indeed regrets the tragedy of Rues short life whenever she thinks of her through the series. Rues most famous literary reference is probably Shakespeare, as mad Ophelia hands the murderous King Claudius flowers, saying, Theres rue for you, and heres some for me. We may call it herb of grace o' Sundays. Oh, you must wear your rue with a difference [for a different reason]. Hamlet IV:v: Katniss echoes this moment when she gives Snow a white rose, the artificial Capitol flower that has always in her mind been linked with blood and death.
The Primrose has a variety of medical uses. Its also a softening agent in hand creams, contrasting with prickly Katniss. The very wordwith the Latin prim or prime, meaning first, means the early or youthful rose. Prim is indeed a youthful girl in the spring of her life. This is how Katniss sees hernot a burden but a beautiful flower that she must protect. Like Prim herself, the plant is cheerful, lovely, and bright, often thriving in areas other plants dont want. It will grow nearly everywhere, turning even ugly little patches of fairly useless dirt into gardens. Prim, too, thrives in an ugly, destructive environment. Primroses were used to protect children, as Prim herself does at the end of the final book, for no evil spirits can touch anything protected by these flowers. Dreaming of primroses meant sorrow and grief, and seeing them bloom out of season was a death-omen. The evening primrose represents eternal love, memory, youth, hope, and sadness. The nickname prim suggests proper behaviorPrimrose follows the rules while rebellious Katniss does not. This nickname echoes her gentle goat, Lady.
The worlds ugliest cat survives the three books significant when Buttercup is read as the rough part of Katniss herself. The buttercup flower represents ingratitude and childishness, a good match for Buttercups personality. In the bomb shelter of District Thirteen, Katniss watches Buttercup bat a dancing light and realizes she has indeed become the cat, chasing the dangling image of Peeta. As the series ends, Buttercup returns with the spring just as Katniss takes the first steps to reclaim her life and goes hunting again. Though she screams at Buttercup, lashing out at him as she blames herself for the tragedies that surround her, Katniss and Buttercup finally cry together and reconcile, Buttercup protects Katniss through the night and Katniss heals him, finally loving the wild part of herself that has returned to defend her and love her in turn. Across the world, cats and lions are considered feminine, while in the Bible, the lion symbolizes courage, strength, and power, all traits Katniss finds within the wild part of herself. Katniss also thinks of herself as Catnip, the one who drives cats crazy just as she loathes Buttercup. In flower folklore, catnip brings courage.
Snows roses provide no nourishment, but only serve to conceal the blood-drenched scent of his breath. In fact, roses represent blood in folklore because of their deep red color. Snow rules a world of order and artificiality. His hybrid hothouse roses are lush pink, sunset orange, and even pale blue ( Mockingjay 354). To Katniss, theyre like plant mutts, unnatural and changed. She describes entering the garden at last but not touching, because I have learned the hard way how deadly these beauties can be ( Mockingjay 355). The greenhouse is a place of mans power over nature, taming the environment and reshaping it for pleasure. Snows garden, like his dungeons, represents a place where flowers and flowerlike children are imprisoned and changed to suit his purposes. The white rose Katniss plucks there is a symbol of her own lost innocence, along with the innocence of Peeta, Rue, Prim, and all the others that have been lost. A white rose also represents martyrdom. By insisting he wear the rose to his death, she is blaming Snow for all the tragedy. Its no wonder Coin is happy to pin it on him, literally and figuratively. Cassias newroses are similarly artificial, hardy, showy, bred for durability ( Matched, 143) with a blunter scent. Surrounded by them, Cassias mother misses real wildflowers.
The white tiger orchids of the Uglies world mean death and destruction of the environment. A greedy Rusty genetically engineered them to make them hardier to trade them for lots of stuff but the plant became too successful and turned into the ultimate weed ( Uglies 181). Further, Tally is nearly burned alive when she wanders into the orchid field. The old growth forest is strong enough to stop it, but the cultivated land where The Rusties had already broken its back is much more vulnerable.
The devil stole into the Garden of Eden. He carried with him the disease amor deliria nervosa in the form of a seed. It grew and flowered into a magnificent apple tree, which bore apples as bright as blood. (Revised Book of Genesis, Delirium 24) Nature with its red of knowledge and danger takes the blame for amor deliria nervosa but science has created the true evil and repression of their abusive society.
Id thought that nothing and nobody was free in Portland, but I was wrong. There were always the birds, Alex comments ( Delirium 229). He adds that racing joyfully on her bike, Lena reminds him of those birds.
On page one of Matched, Cassia dreams of flying, with wings that are not white or feathered: theyre green, made of green silk (Matched 3). She hopes her green dress and Matching will offer her an escape. However, her lovely green dress is not an escape into freedom, just into obedience and conformity. Ky gives Cassia a piece of a Dylan Thomas poem that speaks of birds of the winged trees flying my name (Matched 257). Actual birds soar into the heavens all around them, and Ky kisses Cassia. Later, a little girl makes Cassia the first piece of art for her new worlda bird model fashioned from her scrap of green dress and crushed glass, shattered the way Cassia shattered hers to find freedom. Holding it, Cassia learns that others long to create as she does. She finds love and freedom, for, In Kys eyes is such complete love and hunger that it goes through me like the sharp, high note of a bird in the canyon ( Reached 258)
Katniss always pictures Rue with her arms spread, ready to take flight. The rue plants older Roman name Ruta means to set free, because this herb cures some diseases and poisons, as Rue herself cures Katnisss tracker jacker stings. Prim is Katnisss little duck, a gentle woodland creature needing protection.
Melark might be a portmanteau (or squashing-together) of meadowlark, a nature symbol like so many names of District Twelve. The lark is a symbol of merriment and joy as it sings to welcome the daybreak. It symbolizes Peetas freedom of expression. His last name also resembles malarkey, a word for misleading speech or foolishness, like tomfoolery or fiddlesticks. Katniss notes how Peeta always makes people feel better: Ironic, encouraging, a little funny, but not at anyones expense ( M 299). Though Peeta jokes and lifts Katnisss spirits, hes not excessively foolishbut thats what Katniss must come to realize. Before the Games, she easily dismisses him as dead weight. In time, however, she comes to value him and even his laughter. This is why theyve made it this far. Haymitch and Peeta. Nothing throws them, Katniss thinks as the men joke loudly to distract suspicious Peacekeepers ( CF 156).
Birds come to symbolize freedom in a world of tyranny and oppression: Tris tattoos them on herself as she enters the Dauntless faction. However, crows or ravens (symbolically considered the same) are ill omens. Both are black, but more importantly, after wars the birds would scavenge battlefields and eat the flesh of the dead. Thus they came to mean death and dark times. When Tris chooses them to represent her family, she may sense the darkness thats coming. Cassia, too sees a thick cluster of black birds near a poisoned lake, and immediately discovers her poems are gone.
Triss great fear is a flock of crows tearing her apart. In the simulation vision, first one crow clings to her with fragile feathers and stubborn claws (perhaps her mother, still clinging to her despite everything) Then a flock of hundreds of crows attack, drawing blood and choking her with feathers. Tris has hundreds of former faction members from Abnegation. They are the leaders, the adults ruling the system. And if she reveals shes Divergent, they may be the ones to kill her. However, as Four reveals, crows certainly represent something else. When he sees her tattoo, which he identifies as crows, he believes her family is tied to her hallucination ( Divergent 248). Tris suspects the terror and helplessness are what she really fears ( Divergent 251). By this point, Triss family is dividing and entering danger. In the next chapter, Peter and Molly attack her family through Tris and her fear comes true ( Divergent 243). Later, Tris dreams her mother is cooking a crow for dinner. Tris wakes to discover Al has killed himself. If a dead crow represents the first of her friends to die, then the crows indeed are loved ones and dark omens combined. By books end, Tris is killing crows in her simulation and reclaiming her power.
A mighty wind that can blow down houses and mighty trees. Gale as a revolutionary is just such an uncontrolled force as he demands the deaths of everyone in the Capitol and in District Two. As an unrestrained gale, he harms both sides in the war. Granger has a different take: Gale, the man of the woods, free and unbound except for his family obligations, is an embodiment of Nature, a gale force wind of spirit and the experience of natural beauty. (Unlocking The Hunger Games) Sweet gale or myrica gale (also known as bayberry) is a bushy shrub with bitter leaves. Its versatile for many rural uses just as Gale himself is an excellent trapper, hunter, and gatherer: The branches can be used for beer making, and the cones, for candlewax, the leaves for scenting sheets, the bark for tanning skins.
For his last name, the hawthorn is a thorny shrub in the rose family. It is called Crataegus Oxyacantha from the Greek kratos, meaning hardness (of the wood), oxcus (sharp), and akantha (a thorn). A hard, sharp thorn is a good description of Gale himself. The hawthorn was one of the Three Sacred Trees beloved by fairies (oak and ash being the others). These three trees combine to make magic, rather like the threesome who become the heroes of Panem. As a fairy tree, the hawthorn carries many superstitionsharming the tree leads to death, but those who care for nature will be rewarded by the fairies. Those who destroy Gales home find themselves caught in the fury of his retribution with savage fighting and deadly traps. At the same time, some country villagers believe hawthorn blossoms still bear the smell of the Great Plague of London, thanks to their aroma of decomposition. The bushes are associated with death and graves, as the unlucky thorns were said to spring from dead mens dust.
Both variations on Margaret, these first names mean pearl. Pearls are a symbol of hidden value in the story, with Peetas gift and Effie Trinkets comment that the children of District Twelve may have unexpected talents because If you put enough pressure on coal, it turns to pearls ( Hunger Games 74). Katniss indeed discounts Madge as rich and worthless, and Mags as elderly and frail. But shes proven wrong in the story. Madges aunt died in the Games, and her pin goes on to win Rues trust and make Katniss the Mockingjay. Madge is finally killed because like Katniss, she is a child of the humble District Twelve. Mags too is a survivor, veteran of a previous Game and very handy with making fishhooks, swimming, and scavenging food. She sacrifices herself to save Katniss and her friends.
Actual snow is of course frigid and can kill, in the same way katniss can nourish. Snow is the enemy of food plants, flowers, harvests, and growth, though it does far less to inconvenience those living in cities.