City Lights

City Lights Summary and Analysis of Part 5: A Flower


The Tramp is carried back into the locker room, where his gloves are removed and he's left on a bench. As he wakes up, one of his gloves falls on his head, knocking him out once again.

A title card reads: "Still hoping to get money for the girl, he wandered the city." We see the Tramp walking down the street as a large throng of people come out of a theater. Among them is the Millionaire, who is drunk and instantly recognizes the Tramp. He greets him joyously and ushers him into his car.

Back at the mansion, we see two robbers who have snuck in. They run and hide as the Millionaire and the Tramp enter the living room. The Millionaire ushers him over to a couch and pours him a drink, which he declines, wanting to stay focused so he can help the Flower Girl. To this, the Millionaire says, "Now don't worry about the girl, I'll take care of her," and hands the Tramp $1000.

As the Tramp celebrates the Millionaire's generous gift, we see the two thieves emerging from behind a curtain as the Tramp finds one of their guns on the ground. One of the thieves comes up behind them, and when he goes to grab his gun—which the Tramp has put on the table behind them—the Millionaire suddenly gets the urge to shoot himself and grabs the gun. Before he can do anything with it, the Tramp pulls the gun away from him. He goes and puts the gun in the Millionaire's desk and tries to comfort the Millionaire, when suddenly the robber hits the Millionaire over the head, knocking him out.

Suddenly seeing the two thieves, the Tramp runs to the phone and calls the police. As the thieves run out of the house, the Tramp chases them, running into a police officer. Mistaking the Tramp for the Millionaire's assailant and robber, the butler and the policeman search the Tramp for stolen money. The policeman finds the $1000 just as the Millionaire is coming to, and the Tramp asks the Millionaire to tell the men that he gave him the cash. Holding his head, the Millionaire has no recollection of who the Tramp is and the cop goes to arrest the Tramp.

Snatching the money, the Tramp runs from the room and leaves. He goes immediately to the Flower Girl's home and gives her the money. He tells her to use some for her rent, and some to cure herself of her blindness and she can hardly believe it. "I must be going," he says, taking his leave. As he goes, she asks him if he's going away, and he tells her he must leave for a while. When he is gone, the Flower Girl weeps.

The next day, as the Tramp walks down the street, two men arrest him and take him to jail.

The scene shifts to some time later, the autumn. We see the Flower Girl, who now has her own flower store that she runs with her grandmother. Business is good, and she can now see. The Tramp, whose clothes are now tattered and worn, goes to the Flower Girl's old spot looking for her, but she isn't there.

We see an attractive man enter the flower store and order some flowers. When the Flower Girl looks upset, her grandmother asks her what's wrong, and she tells her that she thought the man was the Tramp from years ago.

Elsewhere, the Tramp looks in a store window, as two young boys laugh at him and shoot spitballs towards him. He scowls at them and keeps walking, landing in front of the flower store. When he looks down and sees a flower on the ground, he goes to pick it up and ends up standing directly in front of the store, much to the amusement of the Flower Girl.

Suddenly, he turns around, recognizing the Flower Girl and smiling broadly. Not knowing who he is, she laughs hysterically at his disheveled dress. Eventually, she offers him a flower, and goes out to talk to him. He can only grin at her. When she puts the flower directly into his hand, she instantly recognizes his touch, and a look of alarm passes over her face. "You?" she says, and he nods.

"You can see now?" he asks, and she tells him that she can. He smiles at her.


In spite of his clumsiness and his difficulties moving through the world, the Tramp is dogged in his pursuit of the funds he needs in order to help the girl. He may be completely out of touch with the world around him, but he has a strong ethical center that keeps him motivated to keep trying to help the woman he loves. Thus, the Tramp is distinguished not only by his haphazard relationship to the events of his life, but also by his sense of what is right, and his desire to do good in the world.

Dramatic irony accounts for a majority of the suspense as well as the humor in the film. After the Millionaire gives the Tramp the money, they find one of the robber's guns on the floor and put it on the table. When the robber goes to take it, the Millionaire is once again overtaken by his own suicidal tendencies, and grabs the gun, which the Tramp then grabs and prevents him from using. The routine is an elaborate conveyor belt of mistakes that only end up saving the protagonists' lives. Meanwhile, the viewer is the only one who can see the choreography from a distance, accounting for a particularly tense dramatic irony.

Yet more tension is built by the fact that after the Millionaire gives the Tramp $1000, a policeman and the butler mistake him for a brutish thief and take the money back. While the viewer is aligned with the Tramp and knows that he was given the money by the Millionaire, the butler and the policeman have no such knowledge, and are convinced that the Tramp is in the wrong.

As is often the case in City Lights, the Tramp always manages to get out safely and achieve his goals, even if the road is littered with obstacles. In spite of being framed for the assault and robbery of the Millionaire, the Tramp's escape from the mansion is surprisingly easy, and he is able to bring the money directly to the Flower Girl, and to give her an unimaginably large gift. The pendulum always swings back and forth in the film; one minute, things seem hopeless, and the next they are completely fixed.

In a film that is so much about the physicalities of the characters, it makes sense that the connection that the Tramp and the Flower Girl make in the final scene is through touch. At first, the Flower Girl has no idea who he is and simply laughs at him and takes pity on him, but when she reaches out and touches his hand, she instantly recognizes him by the feel of his hand. In City Lights, words are spare, identities are often confused, and things don't always go right, but the connection of human touch is something that the characters can rely on. The warmth of touch connects the two unlikely lovers more than their classes or identities ever could.