Revolutionary Petunia Essay

In Alice Walker’s “Revolutionary Petunia” the author has portrayed Sammy Lou as a poor, black lady who revenged her husband’s murder. The writer describes Sammy Lou’s actions as a fight for freedom and change from the horrible manner in which she and others are treated. She is portrayed as a “militant” (line 9) that is strong and proud. Sammy Lou is a “cultivator” and has taken justice into her own hands. The use of the “cultivator hoe” represents her fight for justice and freedom from oppression.

The murder that she committed has started a change for a better life.

The author’s use of the petunias are symbols of Sammy Lou’s life, pride and her stand for change. First, the petunia is a good representation of Sammy Lou’s life. She has endured a harsh typical life for a southern black woman. She has cultivated the land to provide food and raise her children in circumstances not exactly ordinary.

The nature of the flower is to live and thrive against all elements of nature. The poet compares the physical nature of the flower to Sammy Lou. In other words, she wants those around her not to “forgit to water [her] purple petunias” (line 26).

The beauty of the flower will be strong and continue to thrive and will not give up. She wants her children and others that surround her to continue her fight even after she is gone. She reflects upon what is important to her as she is taken to the place she will die. The petunia will live on and so will her fight against those that try to hold her back. She is proud of the achievements she has accomplished. Secondly, Sammy Lou is a proud woman that holds the love of God and her children close to her heart. The purple petunia is strong and beautiful the same as her love for God and her family.

She urges her children to “respect the word of God” (line 22). Her loss of trust for others has not robbed the pride she has in her Christian faith. Although Sammy Lou is a poor lady that has “funeral home calendars” (line 16) for wallpaper, nonetheless she is proud of her children and compares them to “George, Sammy Lou sees strengths in her children and has taught them in a way that they will carry on her fight for change when she is gone. Lastly, making changes for a better more acceptable world for her children is an important part of Sammy Lou’s goals.

Equally important, she has sent the murderer of her husband to his reward (lines 2-3). The petunias if not watered will wilt and die and so will her achievements for change if they are not followed up. She has cultivated a path for her children to follow. She has tried to show them they do not have to be oppressed, but can stand up for themselves. Making the world a better place is an important achievement to Sammy Lou. The murder of a man that is portrayed as a “creature” (line 3) is an example of her stand for change in the lives of those she loves.

In “Revolutionary Petunia”, the author shows that one person can make a difference. An oppressed southern lady takes matters into her own hands when she takes the life of someone, who’s cruelty only brings pain into other’s lives. Her strength brought change and has enabled her to make a difference for the world that she loves and respects. Writer’s Log At first I wrote ideas of the meaning of the poem that I feel were important. This helped me find a path that I wanted to take when I started writing my paper. I wrote down all the words that I needed to look up in the dictionary for better understanding.

I found it easier to stay on the topic after I made a outline of the important parts of the poem I wanted to write about. The more I read the poem, it became easier to understand. I find that if I work on my paper in the morning I have an easier time coming up with ideas. I work lots of hours and sometimes when I am writing I get distracted by the phone or by someone needing my attention, so if I write in the early morning I usually will not get distracted. Writing about poetry is a very hard challenge for me, but I feel once I have written a few papers, hopefully I will become more comfortable with the writings.

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