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
Mink talked earnestly to someone near the rosebush—though there was no one there.
These odd children.
“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!”
“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.”