Symbols in Marigolds
The Marigolds - They represent what is good in such a bad world. Its a bad neighborhood, but at least there is beauty that comes from the Marigolds. Lizabeth is jealous of them and that is why she destroys them.
Lizabeth, the tomboyish main character, narrator and protagonist, tells this story from her childhood. The leader of her group of friends, Lizabeth takes part in throwing stones at Miss Lottie's flowerbed of marigolds. Miss Lottie is the town outcast, and frustrating her is a common past time for the children of the town. In their Depression-era town, her marigolds are described as one of the only spots of amazing vibrant colors. The Marigolds and Miss Lottie seems to confuse and amuse the children at the same time. Later that evening, Lizabeth overhears her unemployed father sobbing to his wife of his frustration and anger in not being able to provide for his family. Never has she heard her father cry. Never has she considered the vulnerabilities of adults. As she wrestles with the fear and anger over their difficult situation, Lizabeth cannot sleep and, in the middle of the night, returns to Miss Lottie's flowerbed. There in the darkness she unleashes her fury on the marigolds, trampling them and uprooting them. When Ms. Lottie sees this, Lizabeth has nothing to say but to stare at what she has done. As her rage and sadness run their course, she looks up to see an equally devastated Miss Lottie standing over her. She then understands the difference between childhood and maturity and that one cannot have both compassion and innocence in them. It is at this moment that Lizabeth sees through the eyes of adulthood, with eyes of compassion, and she knows that the innocence of her childhood is gone forever. Later she states that she, also, planted marigolds like Ms. Lottie.
(paragraph 59) "I opened my swollen eyes and saw in front of me a pair of large, calloused feet; my gaze lifted to the swollen legs, the age-distorted body clad in a tight cotton nightdress, and then the shadowed Indian face surrounded by stubby white hair."