The Innocence Of Childhood In Lizabeth's Marigolds

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The short story ”Marigolds” follows the narrator, a 14 year-old-girl living in extreme poverty during the Depression, as she transitions from the innocence of childhood to the raised consciousness of adulthood. Lizabeth has been poor for a long time, and her story describes her battle with feelings of frustration and hopelessness at being trapped in such a desperate situation. I believe one theme of “Marigolds” is the idea that as we grow up, the innocence of childhood is replaced by compassion. We see this in Lizabeth’s emotional state after she taunts Miss Lottie, when she ruins Miss Lottie’s marigolds, and finally in her reflection at the end of the story.

The story takes place during the end of summer, when Lizabeth is beginning to feel that she may not be a child any longer. She says, “And I remember, that year, a strange restlessness of body and of spirit, a feeling that something old and familiar was ending, and something unknown and therefore terrifying was beginning.” When Lizabeth joins her group of friends to tease an old lady down the road, a part of her holds back. Despite joining in many other times, she feels it is a bit “silly” now. She eventually leads a taunting dance around the woman, but despite enjoying similar play in the past, Lizabeth feels ashamed this time for her “malicious attack”.
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One day, Lizabeth comes home to her father crying about not having a job. This is really hard on Lizabeth because she describes her father as the “rock” of her family. After this, Lizabeth is feeling so many different emotions so she goes and destroys Miss Lottie’s marigolds. Lizabeth really regrets her actions afterwards but feels like this was her transition to
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