Marigolds

Marigolds is a short story that was written by Eugenia W. Collier. Collier reports that she wrote the story during a time in which she was quite unhappy. However, she won the Gwendolyn Brooks Prize for Fiction for it, and she now considers Marigolds her favorite piece of fiction.

The tells the story of an incident during the adolescence of a young African-American girl, Lizabeth, growing up in Maryland. Marigolds is not autobiographical, but many people think it is. Collier explains that her adolescence was much easier than that of the story’s narrator.

Synopsis

Lizabeth could be called the leader in her group of friends. So naturally, they follow her example. When the children take part in throwing stones at Ms. Lottie's flowerbed of marigolds, Lizabeth sees it as her last act of childhood. Unfortunately, Lizabeth lives during the Great Depression of the 1920s and 1930s, and the times are hard for Lizabeth's family. Her father has been out of work for years, and that night, Lizabeth hears him cry for the first time. Amid the stress and fighting with her brother, Joey, Lizabeth returns to the flowerbed. There, she tramples on them violently. She now sees herself as no longer a child:

I know that that moment marked the end of innocence.

Lizabeth is horrified to learn that Ms. Lottie woke up and snuck up on the teenager while the latter destroyed the flowers.


For the article about the flower, see marigold.


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