The title of the story “The Man Who Loved Flowers” by Stephen King might be misleading at first, as readers might expect to read about a man who tends to his garden or about a man whose hobby is related to flowers. Upon reading the story, we realise that the title is both ironic and symbolic. The young man in the story who buys flowers turns out to be a serial killer. In the story, buying flowers seems to become part of the man’s ritual of finding Norma, a woman who is already dead. He picks women whom he thinks are Norma and kills them. The fact that the man recalls Norma loving flowers and small presents suggests that he is trying to recreate the same ritual with the women he kills.
The flowers could also be a symbol of appearance versus reality. Initially, it seems that the man loves flowers and a woman named Norma. He purchases an expensive bouquet thinking about her. However, the end of the story shows him to be a brutal serial murderer and the flowers scatter as he kills the woman in the alley: “…and he swung the hammer the spill of flowers fell out of his hand, the spill spilled and broke open, spilling red, white, and yellow tea roses beside the dented trash cans…”
As such, the flowers become a symbol of the victim whom the man kills, leaving her in the alley along with the scattered bouquet.
The beginning of the short story – the exp...