Seedfolks Literary Elements


Children's fiction

Setting and Context

Cleveland, Ohio in an unspecified time period.

Narrator and Point of View

First-person, shifting narration. The story is told from the perspective of thirteen different characters, who each narrate a different chapter in the first person.

Tone and Mood

The tone is vibrant, generous, and diverse; the mood is uplifting.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonist: community gardeners; Antagonist: indifferent neighbors and authorities

Major Conflict

The major conflict of the novel occurs as the garden grows and the gardeners must overcome logistical challenges, the antagonism of neighbors and politicians, and social and racial tensions in order to create a thriving community space.


The climax of the story is reached slowly and steadily over several chapters, when the characters unite to overcome their challenges and differences and ensure the community garden thrives in the long run. One key climactic moment is the harvest party, in which the gardeners share their bounty with each other.


Sam foreshadows the problems the garden will face by making an allusion to the Tower of Babel.


"When I wake up, I no more like to be with people, like before." Sae Young understates the post-traumatic stress disorder she suffers following her assault, which leaves her terrified of other people.


The author uses biblical allusions to the Garden of Eden and the Tower of Babel to represent the opportunities and challenges of the Gibb Street garden.


The imagery of colorful, bountiful nature at the Gibb Street garden is prominent in the novella, and stands in stark contrast to the imagery of a desolate, impoverished urban landscape.


Gonzalo states that "[t]he older you are, the younger you get when you move to the United States."


Fleischman draws a parallel between the beginning and the end of the novella. At the outset, it is the young Kim who essentially starts the community garden when she plants a few lima beans in the vacant lot. At the end of the novella, Florence worries if the community garden will successfully return after the first long and especially cold winter. She is heartened when she sees the first pioneer gardener, Kim, with a trowel and a plastic bag of lima beans in hand.

Metonymy and Synecdoche



The author personifies Kim's lima beans, which pick themselves back up to survive after nearly dying.