The Judas Tree and its blossoms are the guiding symbols of “Flowering Judas,” representing not only Laura’s guilt over the death of the imprisoned Eugenio, but her own betrayal of her political convictions and Catholic faith. When Laura first encounters the Judas Tree in the story, it is as part of a local custom where a minstrel who stands outside singing can only be warded off by the throwing Judas blossoms. Laura’s maid, Lupe, advises Laura to do so, but it only results in the minstrel following her and returning night after night, which Laura eventually reconciles herself to, though she reflects that she knows better. Here, the Judas blossoms represent the gradual surrender of Laura’s will when faced with the alienating realities of her life in Mexico.
When the Judas blossoms reappear in the dream that is the culmination of the story, they’re given deeper significance. The Judas tree is so-called because legend states that Christ’s betrayer, Judas Iscariot, hung himself from one of its branches, thus aligning the tree with betrayal. In Laura’s dream, the dead prisoner Eugenio appears to Laura and tells her to eat the blossoms, echoing the words of Christ when he says “This is my body, this is my blood.” Thus, Laura’s politics and religion—and her intense fear of betraying both—are woven together into the fabric of her dream. The Judas tree speaks to the way that both religion and politics inform her worldview and reveals her deep-seated anxiety about betraying both sets of convictions.
The Judas Tree Quotes in Flowering Judas
“If you will throw him one little flower, he will sing another song or two and go away.”