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Analysis

Garden Imagery

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

We bet you weren't surprised to see so much garden imagery in a book called Seedfolks. It's right there in the title, after all. And sure enough, gardening is everywhere in this book. Every single character interacts with the community garden on Gibb Street, and Paul Fleischman uses the imagery to prove it. As you're reading, keep an eye out for all the different pieces that go into making a garden.

Gear Up: Gardening Is Hard Work

Gardening sure ain't easy. It takes some seeds, a little know-how, and oodles of dedication. Here's a bunch of gardening ingredients in Seedfolks that popped out to us:

  • Gardening tools like shovels and hoes. They're good for planting fruits and veggies (yes, please) and for weeding out trash (gross).
  • Loads of seeds and lima beans for planting. We dare you to find all the different plants mentioned in this book.
  • Watering cans and funnels. You've got to keep those plants from getting too thirsty, and finding ways to water the plants becomes super important.
  • Plant food. Yep, plants need to eat, too. Just ask Curtis. His "Tomato Food" has his plants growing nice and tall (9.6).

Did we miss anything?

Bottom line: tending to nature is hard work. And all those tools remind us that the plants aren't just going to grow themselves. If Leona wants her goldenrod, she's going to have to tend to it. And if Kim wants her lima beans to thrive, she's going to have to water them properly.

The good news is, that for a lot of our characters, all this hard work pays off with a flourishing garden. But this isn't true for everyone. Virgil works super hard on his dad's lettuce plants, but they die almost immediately.

So what do you think: is all the hard work worth it in the end?

Gardening Is Paradise

Sure, getting the garden going is hard work, but it's also an enjoyable place to hang out. Sae Young loves listening to all the conversations in the garden. And Tío Juan is a seriously cheerful guy when he's getting ready to plant his seeds. And Sam thinks the garden is such an enjoyable place that he compares the community garden on Gibb Street to the biblical Garden of Eden.

Squatting there in the cool of the evening, planting our seeds, a few other people working, a robin singing out strong all the while, it seemed to me that we were in truth in Paradise, a small Garden of Eden. (6.3)

Whenever there's a garden in literature, we have to wonder whether it's a symbol for Eden, but Sam's statement means no more wondering. This is definitely a very happy place. We mean, come on: relaxing in a garden while a little birdie sings a tune? Sign us up.

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