Marigolds Themes

The key themes in "Marigolds" are resulting age, poverty and oppression, and also memory and also context.

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Coming of age: The story centers approximately the moment when Lizabeth move from the innocence and also thoughtlessness the childhood come the responsibility and also compassion that adulthood.Poverty and oppression: Lizabeth"s family and also community struggle economically, a an outcome of both the great Depression and ongoing fads of racial discrimination.Memory and context: The story examines how memory selectively shapes one"s sense of the past and enables one come make feeling of one"s experiences.
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last Updated on February 25, 2021, by Editorial. Word Count: 847

Coming that Age

though “Marigolds” culminates in an encounter between Lizabeth and also Miss Lottie, the catalyst for this climax is those going on inside Lizabeth herself. Caught in between childhood and also womanhood at “fourteen-going-on-fifteen,” Lizabeth is straddling two human beings simultaneously, and she struggles to make feeling of these two conflicting sets...

(The entire section contains 847 words.)

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Coming the Age

Though “Marigolds” culminates in one encounter in between Lizabeth and also Miss Lottie, the catalyst because that this orgasm is those going on inside Lizabeth herself. Caught between childhood and also womanhood in ~ “fourteen-going-on-fifteen,” Lizabeth is straddling two people simultaneously, and she struggles to make sense of these 2 conflicting sets of expectations.

In one world, she is still a child. She wants to fish for minnows, draw pictures in the dirt, chant, litter stones, and also run about with her little brother, Joey. She desires to communicate in lighthearted mischief and also chaos without repercussion and to revel in the reasonably carefree and low-stakes liberty of childhood.

At the same time, Lizabeth can feel it s her approaching womanhood. She can sense this adjust intuitively, describing it as “a strange restlessness that body and of spirit.” together she plays through the younger children, she deserve to feel it s her outgrowing your games.

For Lizabeth, the immediate aftermath of accepting adulthood room evident. The family members is life in poverty, and her older siblings have currently left residence in search of independent—and maybe better—lives. When this trepidation toward her burgeoning adulthood manifests in erratic and cruel actions toward miss out on Lottie, Lizabeth feeling something rather new, too: shame.

When Lizabeth overhears she parents having a an overwhelming conversation, she fear and uncertainty coalesce into a violent tantrum. Wracked v remorse and guilt ~ violently damaging Miss Lottie’s garden, she pertains to realize that this moment represents the finish of she childhood. She deserve to no longer operate without consequences as a child would. In adulthood, guilt, remorse, shame, and also compassion are integral after-effects of one’s actions and also experiences.

Poverty and Oppression

Though the occasions of “Marigolds” occur throughout the an excellent Depression, Collier is careful to note that the problems facing Lizabeth’s family members cannot just be defined by that historic event. Rather, the relevant economic problems are systemic and also long-standing, result from year of discrimination and oppression by the country’s white majority. Against such a context, the woes of the great Depression space not extraordinary for Lizabeth’s rural black community, who have struggled every along:

The Depression that gripped the country was no brand-new thing come us, for the black workers of landscape Maryland had constantly been depressed. I don’t understand what it to be that we were waiting for; certainly not because that the prosperity that was “just around the corner,” because that those to be white folks’ words, i m sorry we never ever believed. Nor did us wait for difficult work and thrift come pay turn off in bright success, together the American Dream promised, for we knew far better than that, too.

From her present-day vantage point, Lizabeth notes that she and the other children had no feeling of the extent of their poverty. In the lack of access to radios, magazines, and also newspapers, the youngsters see just those that looked favor themselves. This absence of context permits an innocence the sorts—without the knowledge to understand what they space missing, the kids only watch what castle have.

Lizabeth’s own view of her situation becomes much more mature and also nuanced together a an outcome of the story’s climax. In her remorse after damaging Miss Lottie’s marigolds, she finally sees what they stand for for the very first time. Miss Lottie was not a witch however “a broken old woman who had actually dared to develop beauty in the middle of ugliness and sterility.” Those marigolds—a small bright spot in their cumulative poverty—were, themselves, a kind of wealth. In the current day, Lizabeth recognizes this value also more, having planted figurative marigolds that her own in the daunting years since.

Memory and also Context

In “Marigolds,” narrator Lizabeth—now a grown woman—recounts a daunting anecdote from her adolescence. She begins her story by musing top top the nature and also utility of memory themselves. Storage are, she posits, one “abstract painting” of sorts, representing the way things feel fairly than the means they are.

This same sense the malleability is carried through the story in lot of dimensions. Collection in the languid, unscheduled work of a childhood summer, the story’s timeline is intentionally hazy. Lizabeth notes the the job of that summer space indistinct, running with each other in her mind together one constant memory. She identity, too, is uncertain and shifting: in one moment, she is a child capturing minnows. In another, she is quiet wondering if she has outgrown she childhood gamings entirely.

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Before long, the uncertainty and confusion overwhelm Lizabeth. She loses manage of herself and, without any type of logic or aware choice, lashes the end violently. Her neighbor’s garden is ruined in the tantrum, and also Lizabeth is instantly full of remorse. Together she watches her neighbor inspection the damage, she lastly feels her childhood on slide away because that good.

With the advantage of her adult experience, Lizabeth is able to include some structure and also context come this memory and recognize it because that the shift it was. Back she sensed in she adolescence the she was undergoing a shift, it is just through the plot of recollection that she have the right to articulate the moment’s importance: “that moment marked the finish of innocence.”