Setting

Time and physical setting

Stephen King's short story “The Man Who Loved Flowers” takes place in 1963, in New York, during a beautiful spring evening. We get these details in the very first sentences of the story:

On an early evening in May of 1963, a young man with his hand in his pocket walked briskly up New York’s Third Avenue. The air was soft and beautiful, the sky was darkening by slow degrees from blue to the calm and lovely violet of dusk. (p. 175, ll. 1-4)

The plot unfolds on the streets of New York: “Sixty-third Street” (p. 175, l. 21), “Seventy-third Street” (p. 179, l. 20). The events span over the course of a few hours, from evening until night.

A part of the action takes place at an old man’s flower stand which is depicted in detail:

…a chipped green handcart filled with flowers - the predominant colour was yellow; a yellow fever of jonquils and late crocuses. The old man also had carnations and a few hothouse tea roses, mostly yellow and white. He was eating a pretzel and listening to a bulky transistor radio that was sitting kitty-corner on his handcart. (p. 176, ll. 1-5)

The radio is a symbol of information that everyone dismisses, as it announces the new of a hammer murderer on the loose.

The flowers also have symbolic functions. Carnations are funeral flowers foreshadowing the murder of the woman. The tea roses the man buys for ‘Norma’ are symbolic of the young woman whom he chooses as his victim – selected because of her appearance, the woman is then brutally killed and abandoned in an alley way, al...

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