Zero Hour

by

Ray Bradbury

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The Rosebush Symbol Analysis

The Rosebush Symbol Icon

In “Zero Hour,” the rosebush symbolizes adults’ failure to take their children seriously and be involved in their lives, and how this failure can have dangerous repercussions. Upon seeing her seven-year-old daughter, Mink, talking to a rosebush, Mrs. Morris thinks to herself that her daughter is “odd.” Mrs. Morris likely assumes Mink has an imaginary friend, but what she fails to realize is that Mink is actually communicating through the rosebush with Drill, the leader of the aliens, about the impending alien Invasion. Later, Mink even hints at this arrangement herself, telling her mother that the aliens decided to use children as their “fifth column” because the aliens knew parents wouldn’t intervene. She explains, “they thought of how grownups are so busy they never look under rosebushes or on lawns!” Mrs. Morris answers, “Only for snails and fungus.” Mrs. Morris fails to connect the fact that her daughter is talking wildly about aliens and was just seen talking to a rosebush herself. Instead, Mrs. Morris makes a painfully logical, adult comment about how grownups only look at rosebushes and lawns to make sure there are no snails or fungus destroying them. Ultimately, this unflinching commitment to logic will prove much more destructive than snails or fungus, as the story’s ending implies that the aliens destroy humankind, starting with the adults.

The Rosebush Quotes in Zero Hour

The Zero Hour quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Rosebush. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Impressionability and Manipulation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon and Schuster edition of Zero Hour published in 1949.
“Zero Hour” Quotes

Mink talked earnestly to someone near the rosebush—though there was no one there.

These odd children.

Related Characters: Mrs. Mary Morris (speaker), Mink Morris, Drill
Related Symbols: The Rosebush
Page Number: 256-257
Explanation and Analysis:

“They couldn’t find a way to attack, Mom. Drill says—he says in order to make a good fight you got to have a new way of surprising people. That way you win. And he says also you got to have help from your enemy. […] And they couldn’t find a way to surprise Earth or get help. […] Until, one day,” whispered Mink melodramatically, “they thought of children! […] And they thought of how grownups are so busy they never look under rosebushes or on lawns!”

Related Characters: Mink Morris (speaker), Mrs. Mary Morris, Drill
Related Symbols: The Rosebush
Page Number: 259
Explanation and Analysis:

“Mink, was that Peggy Ann crying?”

Mink was bent over in the yard, near the rosebush.

“Yeah. She’s a scarebaby. We won’t let her play, now. She’s getting too old to play. I guess she grew up all of a sudden.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Mary Morris (speaker), Mink Morris (speaker), Drill, Peggy Ann
Related Symbols: The Rosebush
Page Number: 262
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Zero Hour LitChart as a printable PDF.
Zero Hour PDF

The Rosebush Symbol Timeline in Zero Hour

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Rosebush appears in Zero Hour. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
“Zero Hour”
Adults vs. Children Theme Icon
Peace, War, and Alien Invasions Theme Icon
Imagination and Logic Theme Icon
...yard and shakes her head with amusement. She notices Mink talking to someone by the rosebush, but no one is there. Mrs. Morris thinks the children are “odd.” She watches Mink... (full context)
Impressionability and Manipulation Theme Icon
Adults vs. Children Theme Icon
Peace, War, and Alien Invasions Theme Icon
Imagination and Logic Theme Icon
...and Mink explains that aliens know that “grownups are so busy they never look under rosebushes or lawns.” Mrs. Morris adds that grownups do look under those things, but “Only for... (full context)
Impressionability and Manipulation Theme Icon
Adults vs. Children Theme Icon
Peace, War, and Alien Invasions Theme Icon
Imagination and Logic Theme Icon
...Mrs. Morris orders Mink to explain why Peggy Ann was crying. Mink, crouched near the rosebush, distractedly answers that Peggy Ann is just a “scarebaby,” and that she is “getting too... (full context)