What Do the Marigolds Symbolize in Marigolds: Exploring the Meanings Behind the Flower

Marigolds. A common flower often found lining gardens and window sills, but in the short story “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier, they hold a deeper significance. These small flowers symbolize hope, beauty, and the loss of innocence. As the story progresses, we see the importance of these bright yellow and orange buds as they both mirror and uphold the themes present in the narrative. From a literary standpoint, the marigold serves as an incredible tool to add depth and meaning to the story’s characters and plot.

Collier’s story follows a young girl named Lizabeth as she navigates the trials and tribulations of growing up in a poor, African American neighborhood during the Great Depression. Alongside her is the protagonist’s brother, Joey. Together, they experience the ups and downs of adolescence while also grappling with the harsh realities of being impoverished and powerless. Throughout the story, we see Lizabeth’s changing relationship with the marigolds, from first admiring their beauty to ultimately destroying them in a fit of rage. It is through these actions that the marigold can be seen as a representation of hope, beauty, and the loss of innocence.

While a small detail in the story, the marigolds serve as a pivotal symbol that contributes greatly to the themes and overall meaning of the narrative. As we follow Lizabeth’s journey and watch her transformation unfold, it is the marigolds that both reflect and guide her growth. Collier’s use of symbolism in “Marigolds” is a testament to her ability to craft a multilayered and poignant story that resonates with readers long after the final page is turned.

Brief summary of “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier

Eugenia Collier’s “Marigolds” is a short story about a young African American girl named Lizabeth who lives in a poor rural community during the Great Depression. The story examines themes of poverty, compassion, and the loss of innocence. Lizabeth, along with her brother Joey and their friends, destroy Mrs. Lottie’s marigolds out of frustration and anger towards their own impoverished conditions. However, Lizabeth later regrets her actions and realizes the significance of the flowers to Mrs. Lottie and the importance of beauty amidst struggle.

Historical significance of marigolds

Marigolds are a popular flower among gardeners because of their hardiness and bright colors. However, the significance of marigolds goes beyond their aesthetic appeal. These sunny blooms are deeply rooted in history and culture, and have been used for various purposes throughout the ages.

  • In ancient Aztec culture, marigolds (known as cempasuchil) were believed to have healing properties and were used in medicinal remedies. The Aztecs also used marigolds as offerings to the sun god during religious ceremonies and festivals.
  • In Hindu culture, marigolds are known as the “herb of the sun” and are often used in religious rituals and offerings to deities.
  • During the Victorian era, marigolds were commonly used in floral arrangements and represented jealousy or cruelty in the language of flowers.

Marigolds have also been associated with various symbolic meanings throughout history. Here are some examples:

Symbolic Meaning Explanation
Joy and Optimism Marigolds are often associated with happiness and positivity, thanks to their bright and cheerful colors.
Grief and Remembrance In many cultures, marigolds are used as a symbol of death and are often included in funeral arrangements or placed on graves.
Protection and Divination In some cultures, marigolds are believed to have protective properties and are used in rituals to ward off evil spirits or negative energy. They are also sometimes used in divination practices.

Whether used for medicinal purposes, religious rituals, or simply for their beauty, marigolds have a rich cultural history and remain a popular flower today. Understanding the historical significance of marigolds adds another layer of appreciation to these lovely blooms.

Cultural significance of marigolds

Marigolds are vibrant, versatile flowers that have held cultural significance for centuries. From ancient Aztec rituals to modern-day celebrations, marigolds have been used in a variety of ways. Here are just a few examples of the cultural significance of marigolds:

  • In Mexico, marigolds are an integral part of the Day of the Dead festivities. The flowers are used to create elaborate altars and featured in parades, as well as being placed on graves to guide the spirits of the deceased back home. The bright colors and unique smell of marigolds are believed to help attract the spirits back to the earthly realm for a brief visit.
  • In Hinduism, marigolds are often used to honor the deities and are a key part of religious ceremonies. They symbolize purity, love, and faith, and are used both in temples and in households as offerings and decorations.
  • In Victorian England, marigolds were commonly used in floral arrangements as symbols of grief or as a goodbye to a departing friend or lover. The flowers were believed to bring comfort and cheer to those experiencing sadness or loss.

As you can see, the cultural significance of marigolds varies greatly depending on the time and place. However, one thing is certain: these bold and beautiful flowers have brought joy and meaning to people all over the world, and their popularity shows no signs of waning anytime soon.

Take a look at the table below to see a brief overview of marigold symbolism in various cultures.

Culture Symbolism
Aztec Death, sacrifice, transformation
Hindu Purity, love, faith
Victorian Grief, goodbye
Mexican Life, death, remembrance

Whether you are honoring the dead, celebrating life, or simply enjoying the colorful blooms, marigolds are a powerful symbol that can add profound meaning to any occasion.

Symbolism in literature

Symbolism plays an essential role in literature, particularly in Marigolds. Apart from being a touching coming-of-age story, the novella uses various symbols to convey themes and emotions. In this article, we’ll be discussing the significance of marigolds in literature.

The symbolism of marigolds in literature

  • Death and mourning: In many cultures, marigolds are associated with death and funerals. They are often used to decorate graves and altars during the Day of the Dead. In Marigolds, the flower serves as a reminder of the hardship and poverty in the town. The children destroy the marigold garden out of frustration and a sense of hopelessness, symbolizing the death of their innocence and childhood.
  • New beginnings: In some cultures, marigolds are also believed to bring good luck and prosperity. They symbolize new beginnings and the triumph over difficulties. In the story, the marigolds also represent a glimmer of hope for Lizabeth and her family. Despite the harsh living conditions, the flowers stand out as a symbol of beauty and resilience.
  • Emotions and moods: Colors have different meanings and associations in literature. In Marigolds, the bright orange color of the marigolds represents warmth, passion, and excitement. It contrasts with the grayness and drabness of the town, and it mirrors the children’s emotional turmoil. The vibrant hue of the flower serves as a catalyst for the events that unfold in the story.

The power of symbols in literature

Symbols are powerful tools in literature. They add depth and complexity to the story, and they allow readers to connect with themes and emotions on a visceral level. The marigolds in Marigolds serve as a poignant symbol of hope, despair, and resilience. They remind us that beauty can exist even in the harshest of circumstances.


As a symbol, marigolds are ripe with meaning and significance. They offer a lens through which we can view the characters and themes in Marigolds, and they remind us of the power of nature and the human spirit. Whether we’re reading a novella or a novel, symbols like the marigolds enhance our reading experience and stay with us long after the final page.

Symbol Meaning
Death and mourning Reminder of hardship and poverty; death of innocence and childhood
New beginnings Good luck and prosperity; triumph over difficulties
Emotions and moods Bright orange color represents warmth, passion, and excitement

Symbols are powerful tools in literature. They add depth and complexity to the story, and they allow readers to connect with themes and emotions on a visceral level. The marigolds in Marigolds serve as a poignant symbol of hope, despair, and resilience. They remind us that beauty can exist even in the harshest of circumstances.

The Garden as a Literary Motif

Throughout literature, gardens have served as powerful symbols for growth, transformation, and reflection. In the short story Marigolds by Eugenia Collier, the garden represents a key element in the protagonist’s emotional journey.

  • Growth: The marigolds in the garden are used to represent the growth and maturity of Lizabeth, the young protagonist. As the story progresses, Lizabeth’s perception of life changes, as she is forced to confront harsh realities that she was previously sheltered from. The marigolds, which she had previously seen as beautiful and resilient, are torn apart in a fit of rage, symbolizing the loss of her innocence.
  • Transformation: In addition to representing growth, the garden also symbolizes the transformation of Lizabeth’s mother. The garden is her pride and joy, and her hard work and dedication to it reflect her resilience in the face of the struggles she faces as a single mother. Her transformation from a struggling parent to a thriving gardener is mirrored by Lizabeth’s transformation from a carefree child to a more mature and empathetic young adult.
  • Reflection: Finally, the garden serves as a place for reflection throughout the story. Lizabeth frequently visits it to escape the harsh realities of her life and to reflect on her own feelings. It is also in the garden that she has her moment of clarity, realizing the impact of her actions and the pain that she has caused.

The Symbolism of Marigolds

Within the garden, the marigolds themselves serve as a powerful symbol of the themes of innocence, hope, and beauty.

Symbolism: Explanation:
Innocence: The marigolds represent Lizabeth’s youthful innocence, which is shattered as she confronts the harsh realities of life.
Hope: The marigolds also represent hope, as they are a resilient flower that can survive even in harsh conditions. Lizabeth’s mother takes great pride in her ability to grow them, and they serve as a symbol of her own resilience.
Beauty: Finally, the marigolds are simply beautiful, representing the beauty that can still be found in life even in the face of difficulty.

Overall, the garden and the marigolds within it serve as powerful literary symbols in Marigolds, representing the growth, transformation, and reflection of the protagonist, as well as the themes of innocence, hope, and beauty.

The use of color in literature

Color plays an important role in literature as it helps convey emotions and create a vivid imagery. Authors and poets have used colors to add depth and meaning to their work. Marigolds, the short story by Eugenia Collier, is no exception as color is an essential element in the story. In the story, marigolds symbolize resilience and hope amidst despair. Here are some ways in which colors are used in literature.

  • Red: Red is often associated with passion, love, and anger. It can evoke strong emotions and is often used to indicate danger or warning. In Marigolds, the red flower symbolizes the emotional turmoil that the characters are facing.
  • Yellow: Yellow is often associated with sunshine, happiness, and optimism. In Marigolds, the yellow marigolds are a symbol of hope, specifically Lizabeth’s hope for a better future.
  • Green: Green is often associated with nature, growth, and fertility. It is used to depict harmony and balance. In Marigolds, the green garden is a symbol of Miss Lottie’s resilience as she continues to tend to her garden despite the difficult circumstances she faces.

Symbolism of Marigolds

The marigolds in Marigolds have a special significance and are a recurring symbol throughout the story. They represent hope, resilience, and the beauty that can exist even in harsh conditions.

The marigolds are first mentioned in the beginning of the story as Lizabeth describes the garden: “And then we saw the marigolds. They glowed in the sun, some were the size of a coin, others were as large as a full moon, perfect spheres that glowed and burned and made you want to weep with joy.” This description sets the tone for the rest of the story as the marigolds become a beacon of hope for Lizabeth.

Later on in the story, Lizabeth destroys Miss Lottie’s marigolds out of frustration and anger. This act symbolizes Lizabeth’s loss of hope and the harsh reality that she faces. However, in the end, Lizabeth realizes the significance of the marigolds and the hope they represent, and she apologizes to Miss Lottie. This act of contrition and reconciliation symbolizes Lizabeth’s growth and renewed hope.

Symbol Description
Marigolds Hope, resilience, beauty in harsh conditions
Red Flower Emotional turmoil
Yellow Marigolds Hope, specifically Lizabeth’s hope for a better future
Green Garden Resilience, harmony, balance

Overall, the use of color in Marigolds adds depth and symbolism to the story. The marigolds, in particular, represent hope and resilience, and their destruction and subsequent reconciliation symbolize the growth and renewal of the story’s protagonist. Color, like other literary devices, serves to enhance the reader’s understanding and emotional connection to the story.

The Effects of Poverty on Children

Poverty is a widespread problem that affects millions of children worldwide. Poverty can have a significant impact on a child’s development and can lead to long-term physical, emotional, and cognitive consequences. In the short-term, poverty can cause stress, anxiety, and depression, which can manifest in various ways.

  • Low self-esteem: Children living in poverty may develop low self-esteem due to the negative messages they receive from their environment. They may feel inadequate and have a negative self-image.
  • Behavioral issues: Children living in poverty may exhibit behavioral issues such as aggression, hyperactivity, and difficulty concentrating. These behaviors can lead to problems in school and home.
  • Health problems: Children living in poverty are at a higher risk of developing health problems such as malnutrition, infectious diseases, and chronic illnesses.

Over the long-term, poverty can have a profound impact on a child’s future. Poverty can limit their access to education, healthcare, and employment, which can hinder their ability to break the cycle of poverty.

According to a recent study, children living in poverty have smaller brain volumes and may experience delays in cognitive development. Poverty can also affect a child’s academic performance, as they may struggle to focus in school due to stress and anxiety.

Consequences of poverty on children: Effects on children:
Food insecurity Malnutrition, stunted growth
Limited access to healthcare Chronic illnesses, decreased immunity
Limited access to educational resources Lower academic achievement, limited job prospects

Exposure to poverty can also affect a child’s mental health and well-being. Children living in poverty may have increased levels of stress and anxiety, which can lead to depression and other mental health disorders. They may also feel socially isolated, leading to feelings of loneliness and sadness.

Overall, poverty has wide-ranging effects on children that extend beyond their financial situations. It is important to recognize the impact of poverty on children and work towards breaking the cycle of poverty through education, healthcare, and social assistance programs.

The portrayal of adolescence in literature

Adolescence is a period of transition from childhood to adulthood that is often explored by writers in their works. In literature, adolescence is portrayed in various ways, ranging from the challenges to the coming of age. One of the best examples of this is the short story, “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier. The story tells the tale of a young girl, Lizabeth, who lives during the Great Depression and learns about the harsh realities of life. The story also makes use of the powerful symbol of marigolds to represent the struggles of adolescence.

The symbolism of marigolds in the story

  • The marigolds symbolize the transition from childhood to adulthood.
  • The marigolds represent hope and beauty.
  • The destruction of the marigolds symbolizes the loss of innocence.

The psychological aspects of adolescence in “Marigolds”

The story also portrays the psychological aspects of adolescence. The protagonist, Lizabeth, is at an age where she is not quite a child anymore, but not yet an adult. She is struggling to make sense of the world around her and is faced with feelings of frustration and anger. These feelings are evident in her actions towards Miss Lottie’s marigolds, which she destroys out of frustration and a need for control.

This portrayal of adolescence is relatable for many readers who have also gone through this period of transition. The story can serve as a reminder of the complexities of this stage in life and can help readers reflect on their own experiences.

The use of imagery in “Marigolds”

The use of imagery is also prominent in the story. Collier describes the marigolds in great detail, emphasizing their beauty and hope. The description of the marigolds is used to create a sense of contrast with the harsh realities of the Great Depression that Lizabeth is living through. The destruction of the marigolds is a powerful image that highlights the loss of hope and beauty that occurs in adolescence.

Symbolism Interpretation
Marigolds Transition, hope, and beauty
Miss Lottie’s garden The struggles of life and the beauty that can still be found in it
The road through the narrator’s town The harsh realities of life

The use of such imagery helps to make the story more impactful and meaningful for readers. Moreover, it serves to shed light on the experience of adolescence and the challenges it brings.

The role of setting in literature

The setting of a story plays a vital role in shaping the plot, characters, and overall theme. It sets the tone, atmosphere, and mood of the story, providing readers with a visual and sensory experience. In the short story “Marigolds” by Eugenia W. Collier, the setting is an essential part of the story, representing both hope and despair.

  • Symbolism of Marigolds – The marigolds in the story symbolize hope and beauty in the midst of poverty and despair. They bloom in a small patch of land beside the poverty-stricken shacks, providing a glimpse of beauty in an otherwise bleak environment. The narrator, Lizabeth, cherished the marigolds as a symbol of hope and beauty, but destroyed them out of frustration and rage at her inability to escape poverty.
  • Symbolism of the Shacks – The shacks in the story represent poverty, despair, and hopelessness. They are a stark contrast to the vibrant marigolds, showing the harsh reality of society’s economic inequality. The shacks represent a place where dreams go to die, where people are trapped in a cycle of poverty with no way out.
  • Symbolism of the Town – The town in the story is a microcosm of the larger society, with economic inequality and social injustice prevalent. The town represents the larger world, where people struggle to survive and find hope in the midst of despair. It also represents a place where dreams can come true, but only for a lucky few.

The setting in “Marigolds” not only provides a backdrop for the story but takes on a symbolic meaning, adding depth and complexity to the narrative. It highlights the themes of poverty, inequality, and the human spirit’s resilience in the face of adversity. It represents the hope and despair of life and reminds us that beauty can still exist in the bleakest of circumstances.

When setting is used effectively in literature, it can enhance the story, making it more immersive, and emotionally resonant. It can provide readers with insight into the characters’ motivations, the plot’s direction, and the overall theme. Setting can be a powerful tool, enriching the reader’s experience and elevating the story to new heights.

Setting element Effect on story
Marigolds Symbolize hope and beauty. Highlight the contrast between poverty and prosperity.
Shacks Symbolize poverty and despair. Show the harsh reality of society’s economic inequality.
Town Represents the larger society. Highlights the themes of poverty, inequality, and the human spirit’s resilience.

Ultimately, the setting in “Marigolds” serves as more than just a backdrop but as a central element of the story’s meaning. It shows how the physical environment in which individuals live can shape their outlook, values, and beliefs. Thus, setting can provide an overall view of the story’s messages, making it an essential literary device in the author’s arsenal.

The Use of First-Person Narration in Short Stories

In the world of literature, writers use various techniques to convey their message to the reader. One of the most effective ways of doing this is through the use of a first-person narration. This technique allows readers to experience the story through the eyes of the narrator, creating an intimate connection between the reader and the story’s characters.

When it comes to short stories, it becomes even more essential to choose the right narrator. Short stories have limited space to explore characters and themes, so the choice of the narrator becomes even more critical. The first-person narrator allows the writer to create a world that is perceived by the protagonist. This technique allows the author to delve deeper into the character’s psyche, thoughts, and beliefs, giving the reader insight into the character’s personality and backstory.

  • Credibility: First-person narration in short stories gives the protagonist credibility as he or she is telling the story from their own point of view. This technique makes the story feel more authentic and genuine, as the reader is experiencing events through the eyes of a character.
  • Connection: The use of first-person narration creates an emotional connection between the reader and the character. As the reader experiences events and emotions alongside the protagonist, they begin to empathize with the character and understand their motivations.
  • Limitations: While first-person narration can be powerful, it also has some limitations. The reader can only experience the story from the protagonist’s point of view, limiting the reader’s understanding of other characters and events that happen outside of the narrator’s purview.

When it comes to the short story “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier, the use of first-person narration is vital to the story’s impact. The narrator, Lizabeth, is a young girl living during the Great Depression. Through her narration, the reader gains insight into her impoverished life and the harsh realities of the time period. By sharing Lizabeth’s story in the first person, Collier creates a sense of empathy and understanding for her character.

Pros Cons
Gives the protagonist credibility Limitations on the reader’s understanding of other characters and events
Creates an emotional connection between the reader and character
Allows the author to delve deeper into the protagonist’s psyche

In conclusion, the use of first-person narration in short stories is a powerful tool that allows writers to create an emotional connection between the reader and the protagonist. While it has some limitations, the technique gives the protagonist credibility and allows the reader to experience the story through the protagonist’s eyes. In the short story “Marigolds,” Eugenia Collier effectively uses first-person narration to convey the harsh realities of life during the Great Depression and create a sense of empathy and understanding for her character.

What do the Marigolds Symbolize in Marigolds?

Q: What do the marigolds represent in “Marigolds”?
A: In the short story “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier, the marigolds represent hope and resilience.

Q: Why are the marigolds so important to the protagonist, Lizabeth?
A: Lizabeth sees the marigolds as a symbolic representation of her own life and her family’s struggles. They give her hope and comfort during difficult times.

Q: What do the marigolds symbolize in terms of the theme of the story?
A: The marigolds symbolize the resilience and persistence of the human spirit in the face of hardship and despair. They offer a glimmer of hope in an otherwise bleak world.

Q: How does the symbolism of the marigolds change throughout the story?
A: At first, the marigolds are a source of joy for Lizabeth and her friends. Later, they become a symbol of the harsh realities of life and the struggles that people face every day.

Q: What do the marigolds represent in terms of Lizabeth’s growth and development as a character?
A: The marigolds represent Lizabeth’s growing awareness of the world around her and her own place in it. They help her to understand the importance of empathy and compassion for others.

Q: What is the significance of the marigolds in the context of the Great Depression era in which the story is set?
A: The marigolds, with their bright colors and resilient nature, are a symbol of the human spirit’s ability to survive and thrive in the face of economic hardship and uncertainty.

Q: How do the marigolds contribute to the overall message of the story?
A: The marigolds serve as a powerful symbol of hope and resilience, conveying the message that even in the darkest of times, there is always a glimmer of light on the horizon.

Thanks for Reading!

We hope this article helped you gain a better understanding of the symbolism of the marigolds in “Marigolds”. Remember that even in the darkest times, there is always hope and resilience. Thanks for visiting and be sure to come back soon for more engaging content!