The Significance of the Black Rose in 'Fragrance of Roses' by Peter Carey

1094 words 5 pages
The significance of the black rose in 'Fragrance of Roses' by Peter Carey

'The locals will now tell you that when they visited the old man's glasshouse, they discovered the most beautiful rose that anyone could ever dream of. It was twice the size of a man's fist and was almost black in colour, with just the faintest hint of red in its velvety petals.'

Fragrance of Roses is about a pitiful foreign old man who had lived in a poor village for twenty-five years. His only work was breeding roses in a glasshouse behind his house. After two Israeli agents arrested him, the villagers who disliked him openly finally discovered his past as the former commandant of Auschwitz and his beautiful black rose, which became their prized possession
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I believe that he is suggesting that the rose is what it is, and not entirely what the villagers claim.

Another irony is the fact that the black rose is a hybrid plant. It seems that the former commandant just cannot let go of his enjoyment of manipulating nature. Except, this time, he can only use plants instead of people for his experiments. The interesting note to this irony is that while he worked at Auschwitz, the Nazi goal was to purify the German Aryan race by eliminating the inferior races and forbiding intermarriage between Aryans and Jews, but with the roses, he polluted the genes of a rose specie by cross breeding it with various other species, in order to form a hybrid.

The end of the story is all together an irony. Instead of being offended by the shocking significace of the rose, the locals are fascinated by it and made it their pride and 'good fortune'. Although the villagers have promoted awareness of Auschwitz by showcasing the rose, they did it for money and fame, not out of sympathy for the victims

They have essentially commercialised and exploited the rose and a dreadful history irrelevant to their town. They assigned a terrible historic significance to the rose and discredited its true significance to its breeder. Through their insensitivity and lack of sincerity, Peter Carey shows us that people can easily forgets horrific memories in order for self-gain. Perhaps, Peter