To Kill a Mockingbird

Geraniums and Camellias Symbol Analysis

Geraniums and Camellias Symbol Icon

Geraniums and camellias symbolize the redemptive qualities that are present even in the most cruel and unsympathetic people. Mayella Ewell, Tom Robinson’s accuser, is in a variety of ways a pitiful and unsavory character—and yet, like Miss Maudie, she grows bright red geraniums in jars for her enjoyment and for the enjoyment of everyone who passes her family’s home. Mrs. Dubose similarly is very proud of her camellias, despite also being an extremely unpleasant, rude, and racist individual. Because of this, the flowers that both women grow come to symbolize their respective humanity, which challenges Scout’s notion that people are all good or all bad. This supports the novel’s assertion that even individuals who seem, at first glance, to be horrible people who do and say unspeakable things aren’t entirely evil.

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Geraniums and Camellias Symbol Timeline in To Kill a Mockingbird

The timeline below shows where the symbol Geraniums and Camellias appears in To Kill a Mockingbird. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 11
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
...snaps. He grabs Scout’s baton, uses it to cut the tops off of Mrs. Dubose’s camellia bushes, and then snaps the baton. He beats up Scout and they head home. (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...don’t meet Atticus that evening. When Atticus arrives home with the broken baton and a camellia, Jem confesses, and Atticus icily sends him to apologize to Mrs. Dubose. Scout is terrified—she... (full context)
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
...this is why she had fits. She called him just before Jem cut down her camellias to make her will and insisted that she’d die beholden to nothing—she wanted to overcome... (full context)
Chapter 17
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...and the yard is littered with refuse, but along one side of the fence, red geraniums bloom in slop jars. There are lots of children. Beyond the cabin is a neat... (full context)
Chapter 18
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...can tell that Mayella tries but fails to keep clean, and she thinks of the geraniums in the Ewell yard. Mr. Gilmer asks Mayella to share what happened. Mayella promptly bursts... (full context)