What Do the Marigolds Symbolize to Miss Lottie? Understanding the Significance of Flowers in “The Giver”

Marigolds, the bright yellow and orange flowers, are a common sight in gardens. But for Miss Lottie, these flowers hold a much deeper meaning. To her, they represent hope, optimism, and the possibility of a better future. The marigolds in her garden symbolize a glimmer of light in an otherwise bleak and oppressive world.

Miss Lottie’s love for marigolds stems from her belief that these flowers hold the power to bring change. Her garden, filled with these vibrant blooms, is a reflection of her unwavering spirit and determination to overcome the challenges of life. Even in the face of adversity, Miss Lottie’s marigolds act as a reminder that there is always hope for a brighter tomorrow.

For Miss Lottie, the marigolds represent the possibility of transformation and growth. With their bright color and resilient nature, these flowers inspire her to keep pushing forward, even when everything else seems impossible. In this way, her garden of marigolds serves as a source of motivation and inspiration, a reminder that even the smallest things can make a world of difference.

Background on the short story “Marigolds”

“Marigolds” is a coming-of-age story written by Eugenia Collier in 1969. The story is set in rural Maryland during the Great Depression and follows a young African-American girl named Lizabeth as she navigates the hardships of poverty and racism. The story’s title comes from the marigold flowers that Lizabeth and her brother destroy in a fit of rage, an act that causes Lizabeth to reflect on the harsh realities of the world around her.

What do the marigolds symbolize to Miss Lottie?

  • Hope: Miss Lottie’s marigolds symbolize hope for a brighter future amidst the poverty and despair of their community. She tends to them with great care and pride, believing that they bring beauty and joy to an otherwise bleak landscape.
  • Memory: The marigolds also serve as a reminder of Miss Lottie’s happier times, before she became a lonely and bitter woman. They represent a connection to her past and the memories of her husband, who used to cultivate a garden full of flowers.
  • Vulnerability: When Lizabeth and her brother destroy the marigolds, they shatter Miss Lottie’s sense of security and stability. The flowers were her only defense against the harshness of the world, and their destruction leaves her exposed to the hardships and cruelties of life.

Why do the marigolds affect Lizabeth so deeply?

Lizabeth’s destructive act towards Miss Lottie’s marigolds forces her to confront the reality of her own powerlessness and the futility of her rage. She realizes that the destruction of the flowers was not an act of rebellion against Miss Lottie, but a misguided attempt to lash out at her own frustrations and fears. The marigolds symbolize the hope and beauty that Lizabeth yearns for in her life, and their destruction serves as a painful reminder of the harshness and ugliness of the world.

The significance of the setting in “Marigolds”

The rural setting of “Marigolds” reflects the isolation and poverty that Lizabeth and her community face. The lack of connectivity to the outside world leaves them vulnerable to the hardships of the Great Depression and the racism that permeates their lives. The barren landscape and lack of beauty also serve as a contrast to the hope and beauty that the marigolds represent. Through this setting, Collier emphasizes the difficulties faced by African-American communities during this time and highlights the importance of hope and resilience in the face of adversity.

Symbolism Description
Marigolds Symbolize hope, memory, and vulnerability to Miss Lottie.
Lizabeth’s act of destruction Reflects the harshness of the world and Lizabeth’s own powerlessness.
Setting Represents the isolation and poverty of Lizabeth’s community, emphasizing the importance of resilience and hope.

The symbolism in “Marigolds” underscores the harsh realities of poverty and racism faced by African-American communities during the Great Depression. Through the destruction of the marigolds, Collier highlights the importance of hope and resilience in the face of adversity.

Analysis of Miss Lottie’s character

Miss Lottie is a peculiar character in the short story “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier. She is an elderly woman who lives in a shabby old house at the edge of the black community. Despite her seemingly insurmountable hardships, Miss Lottie manages to make ends meet and maintain her dignity. Her character is crucial to the story as it brings to light the themes of growth and transformation.

What do the marigolds symbolize to Miss Lottie?

  • The marigolds represent hope and happiness for Miss Lottie.
  • They symbolize a valuable connection to her past and a reminder of her youth.
  • The marigolds serve as a source of pride and self-worth for Miss Lottie, as they are the only beautiful thing in her otherwise bleak surroundings.

Miss Lottie’s internal struggle

Miss Lottie represents the struggle that comes with aging and being stuck in a difficult situation. Throughout the story, she battles between her desire to hold onto what little beauty she has left and the reality of her impoverished existence. Her internal conflict is highlighted when she catches the children destroy her marigolds, and in a fit of rage, she confronts them with tears in her eyes. This outburst shows that even someone as strong as Miss Lottie has moments of vulnerability and emotional turmoil.

She is also seen as the only person who is willing to stand up to the white people in the story. When the white people come to establish a new development, she speaks out against them, recognizing the injustice of their actions.

The symbolism of Miss Lottie’s house

Miss Lottie’s house represents her physical and emotional state. Her home is described as run-down, with broken windows and peeling paint. However, despite its poor condition, the house is surrounded by the beautiful marigolds, which signify hope and happiness. This contrast between the house and the flowers reflects Miss Lottie’s character. Although she lives in poverty, she still finds happiness in the little things in life, just as the marigolds are the only beautiful thing in her surroundings.

Symbol Description
House Miss Lottie’s physical and emotional state
Marigolds Hope and happiness for Miss Lottie

In conclusion, Miss Lottie’s character is essential to the story’s meaning and themes. Through her struggles and conflicts, she represents the reality of growing old in poverty and the importance of finding happiness in the little things in life. The marigolds, the symbol of hope and happiness, represent Miss Lottie’s desire to hold on to what little beauty she has left.

Marigold Flower Meanings in Different Cultures

Marigold flowers have had deep cultural symbolism and meaning across various civilizations and cultures throughout history. The beautiful and vibrant flowers have been used in spiritual, cultural, and medicinal practices. In this article, we will explore some of the marigold flower meanings and the cultural significance attached to them, especially what they represent to Miss Lottie.

Marigold Flower Meanings

  • In Hindu culture, the marigold flowers are considered the sacred flowers of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God of wisdom and remover of obstacles. The bright yellow and orange color of marigold symbolizes the sun, new beginnings, and positivity. These flowers are commonly used during festivals, weddings, and religious rituals.
  • In Mexican culture, marigolds hold a prominent place in the annual Day of the Dead festival celebrated to remember and honor the deceased. The bright yellow flowers with orange middles are used to create large decorative altars for the deceased, and the sweet fragrance of marigold flowers is believed to guide the spirits of the dead to the Earthly plane for the festivities.
  • In Celtic culture, marigolds represent protection, and were believed to keep evil spirits away from one’s home. The flowers were often planted near the entrance of the house or hung on doors and windows during significant events such as weddings.

Marigold Flower Symbolism to Miss Lottie

Miss Lottie from “Marigolds,” a short story by Eugenia Collier, associated the marigolds with her sense of hopelessness and frustration due to poverty and marginalization. To her, these flowers represented the ugliness of her circumstances, and she believed that destroying them would create beauty and cleanliness in her life.

Meaning of Marigold Colors

Color Meaning
Yellow Optimism, happiness, and joy
Orange Warmth, vitality, and success
Red Love, courage, and passion
White Purity, innocence, and spirituality

Marigold flowers have a rich history, and their symbolism varies depending on the culture and context. From spiritual significance to cultural rituals to literary symbolism, marigolds have held an important place in human history and continue to be a source of inspiration and meaning for people across the globe.

Symbolism of flowers in literature

Flowers have long been used in literature to symbolize various emotions, ideas, and concepts. From Shakespeare’s reference to the daisy in “Hamlet” to the yellow roses in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”, flowers have served as an important tool for authors to convey hidden meanings and messages. One such flower that holds deep symbolism is the marigold.

What do the marigolds symbolize to Miss Lottie?

  • Despair and hopelessness: In the story “The Flowers” by Alice Walker, the marigolds symbolize poverty and hopelessness to Miss Lottie, who lives in a shantytown with her son. The flowers are the only color in her life, and she takes great pride in them. When the story’s protagonist, a young girl named Myop, tramples on her marigolds, Miss Lottie’s dreams and hopes are crushed, and she sinks into a state of despair.
  • Persistence and resilience: Despite the initial devastation, Miss Lottie is able to find the strength to replant her marigolds. This act symbolizes her resilience and persistence in the face of adversity. For her, the flowers are not just a source of beauty, but a symbol of her determination and ability to overcome challenges.
  • Death and remembrance: In some cultures, marigolds are associated with death and are often used in funeral rituals. In “The Flowers”, the marigolds can also be seen as a symbol of death and remembrance, as they represent the loss of Miss Lottie’s dreams and hopes after the destruction of her garden.

The Language of Flowers

Flowers in literature are often used to convey deeper meanings and messages, and this practice is known as the language of flowers. Each flower has its own specific symbolism, and the marigold is no exception. In some cultures, marigolds are associated with the sun and warmth, making them a symbol of joy and happiness. In other cultures, such as in Mexico, marigolds are used in the Day of the Dead celebrations, where they are believed to help guide the souls of the departed back to the world of the living. The marigold also has medicinal properties and can be used to treat various ailments, making it a symbol of healing and rejuvenation.


The symbolism of flowers in literature is a rich and complex topic that has been explored by many authors throughout history. The marigold, with its multifaceted symbolism, is just one example of how flowers can be used to convey deep emotions and ideas. Whether they are symbols of hopelessness, resilience, or death, flowers will always hold an important place in literature and the human experience.

Symbolism of Marigolds
Despair and hopelessness Poverty and lack of opportunities
Persistence and resilience The ability to overcome challenges and adversity
Death and remembrance The loss of dreams and hopes

The marigold is just one flower with a rich and complex symbolism in literature.

Miss Lottie’s relationship with the children in the story

In “The Flowers” by Alice Walker, Miss Lottie is the only African-American woman who owns a home and a garden in her community. Despite her garden being run-down and unkempt, it holds great significance to her. Miss Lottie’s relationship with the children in the story is complex, and it is through her interactions with them that we begin to understand the true meaning behind her marigold garden.

  • Miss Lottie is initially portrayed as a grumpy and unapproachable woman, scaring off the neighborhood children with her fierce demeanor. However, this changes when she allows the protagonist, a young African-American girl who is not named, to pick some of her marigolds.
  • When the protagonist and her brother return to Miss Lottie’s garden to apologize for their actions in picking the flowers, they find her crying in her garden. This is the first time the children see Miss Lottie as vulnerable.
  • Miss Lottie then shares the story of her son, who was lynched by the white people in the community. She reveals that her marigold garden is a tribute to her son and serves as a reminder of the racism and hate that still exist in their world.

Through her relationship with the children, Miss Lottie’s character is revealed as one filled with both pain and pride. Although she may seem harsh and distant at first, it is evident that her marigold garden represents something much deeper than just a collection of flowers.

Symbolism Meaning
Marigolds Sympathy, grief, and mourning
Miss Lottie’s garden Hope and resilience in the face of racism and tragedy
Miss Lottie’s character Complex and multifaceted, revealing the nuances of African-American life in the South

In conclusion, Miss Lottie’s relationship with the children in “The Flowers” is a crucial aspect of the story, as it is through this relationship that we begin to understand the symbolism of the marigold garden and its significance to her. Through her vulnerability and honesty, Miss Lottie becomes a character of great depth and complexity, showing the pain and suffering that many African-American people have faced and continue to face in our society.

The Setting of the Story and Its Significance to the Theme

“The Flowers” by Alice Walker is a short story that talks about the life of a young girl, Myop, who flowers marigolds regularly. The setting of the story is a key element to understand the theme of the narrative. The story takes place in a rural community, and the author utilizes this scenery to present the theme of innocence versus reality, making a harsh contrast between both elements.

What Do the Marigolds Symbolize to Miss Lottie?

  • The marigolds represent hope: In the story, Miss Lottie has the habit of gardening marigolds. They are the only flowers she takes care of consistently. The marigold symbolizes hope and joy, which Miss Lottie is longing for in her life.
  • The marigolds represent the past: In the story, Miss Lottie implanted the marigolds to remember her husband, a man that was kind and caring. However, he passed away, leaving Miss Lottie in a world of sorrow. The marigolds became a symbol of her past, and she takes care of them to keep the memory of her husband alive.
  • The marigolds represent destruction: After learning that the marigolds have been destroyed, Miss Lottie becomes angry. She associates the actions of Myop and her friends as disrespectful, and the destruction of the marigolds a symbol of this act.

The Significance of the Number Six

Alice Walker uses several literary devices throughout the story to highlight the contrast between innocence and reality, such as imagery, symbols, and colors. One of these literary devices is the significance of the number six.

In the story, there are two significant moments that happen on the sixth. Firstly, Myop collects six flowers before she discovers the corpse in the woods. Secondly, after destroying the marigolds, Miss Lottie says that her husband died on the sixth of August. The number six symbolizes death and destruction, which is the ultimate theme of the story.

Significance of the Number Six Explanation
Myop collects six flowers Symbolizes the transition from innocence to reality
Miss Lottie’s husband dies on the sixth of August Symbolizes the ultimate destruction and death that the marigolds represent

Overall, the number six is significant to the story as it represents a fundamental element of the narrative: the contrast between innocence and reality. The significance of the number six highlights these opposing elements in the story, making it a powerful tool to understand the overall theme of the narrative.

The theme of loss of innocence in “Marigolds”

One of the central themes in “Marigolds” is the loss of innocence, and the marigolds symbolize this loss in several ways.

Here are seven ways that the marigolds symbolize the loss of innocence:

  • The destruction of the marigolds represents the loss of beauty and innocence in the town.
  • The narrator’s realization of the futility of destroying the marigolds represents the loss of childhood innocence and wonder.
  • The marigolds represent hope and beauty, which are lost as the town becomes more impoverished and desolate.
  • The narrator’s realization that the world is not always beautiful and innocent is a loss of innocence that is mirrored in the destruction of the marigolds.
  • The narrator’s anger and frustration at her circumstances represent a loss of innocence and the beginning of adulthood.
  • The marigolds, which were once a symbol of innocence and hope, become a symbol of despair and hopelessness as the story progresses.
  • The narrator’s empathy for Miss Lottie and her realization of the complexities of adult life represent a loss of innocence as she begins to understand the hardships and struggles of others.

The marigolds symbolize the loss of innocence in “Marigolds” in many different ways, highlighting the challenges and difficulties of growing up and coming to terms with the complexities of the world.

References: Ferriss, Tim. “The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.” Crown Publishing, 2007.

Symbol The Loss it Represents
Marigolds Loss of beauty and innocence in the town.
Marigolds Loss of childhood innocence and wonder.
Marigolds Loss of hope and beauty as the town becomes more impoverished and desolate.
Marigolds The realization that the world is not always beautiful and innocent.
Marigolds Loss of innocence and the beginning of adulthood.
Marigolds Symbol of despair and hopelessness as the story progresses.
Marigolds Loss of innocence as the narrator begins to understand the hardships of others.

Note: Table created by the AI language model using HTML tags.

The role of poverty and economic struggle in the story

In “The Flowers” by Alice Walker, poverty and economic struggle play a significant role in the story. Miss Lottie, the owner of the garden where the marigolds grow, is a poor and uneducated African American woman who resides in a shantytown. Her living conditions and lack of resources make it difficult for her to make ends meet, let alone tend to her garden.

  • Miss Lottie’s poverty is a driving force behind her attachment to the marigolds. They are one of the only beautiful things in her life, and she lives vicariously through their beauty. To her, they symbolize hope, as they promise the potential of growth and life.
  • At the same time, the story highlights the devastating effects of poverty on children. The protagonist, a young girl named Myop, lives in the same shantytown as Miss Lottie. She is too young to fully comprehend the gravity of her family’s financial struggles, but she is not unaware of the difficulties they face. When Myop enters Miss Lottie’s garden, she sees firsthand the harsh reality of poverty.
  • The marigolds represent not only Miss Lottie’s hope but also the despair that poverty can bring. Myop and her friends destroy the marigolds, an act that signifies the loss of innocence and the harshness that comes with growing up in a financially unstable environment.

To further understand the role of poverty and economic struggle in the story, it is useful to examine the contrast between the shantytown and the nearby white neighborhood. While the shantytown is filled with run-down homes and poverty-stricken families, the white neighborhood is prosperous and full of life.

A table that illustrates this contrast can be seen below:

Shantytown White Neighborhood
Run-down homes Well-kept houses
Poverty-stricken families Prosperous families
Dead-end street Busy street

The stark contrast between these two areas serves as a reminder of the challenges that impoverished communities face. While the marigolds in Miss Lottie’s garden offer a small glimmer of hope, they also represent the harsh reality of poverty and the difficult choices that families in these conditions must make.

The use of sensory details in the story to convey emotions

One of the hallmarks of good storytelling is the ability to convey a range of emotions through the use of sensory details. In the short story “Marigolds,” by Eugenia Collier, the author masterfully employs sensory details to evoke a deep sense of sadness, regret, and hopelessness in Miss Lottie, one of the main characters.

  • Sight: Through Lizabeth’s eyes, we see the marigolds that Miss Lottie spends so much time tending to. They are “fierce, fiery, and gold” and stand out in stark contrast to the dried-up, dusty yard surrounding Miss Lottie’s shabby house. Their bright color and boldness are perhaps a reflection of Miss Lottie’s own inner vitality, which has been dampened by years of disappointment and loss.
  • Sound: Throughout the story, we hear the sounds of summer in a small Oklahoma town – the hum of cicadas, the rustling of leaves, and the occasional twang of a banjo. But perhaps the most poignant sound is the one that Lizabeth hears on the night she and her friends destroy Miss Lottie’s precious marigolds – the sound of Miss Lottie’s cries of anguish and despair.
  • Touch: When Lizabeth describes how she and her friends trample Miss Lottie’s marigolds, she mentions how they feel under her feet – “soft and cool and waxy.” This tactile description underscores the destructiveness of the act and heightens our sense of its wrongness.
  • Smell: Marigolds have a strong, pungent odor that some people find unpleasant. But for Miss Lottie, the smell of her beloved flowers is likely a source of comfort, reminding her of happier times and providing a small measure of solace amid the difficulties of her life.
  • Taste: While taste doesn’t play a major role in “Marigolds,” it’s worth noting that the story takes place during the summer, a time when many people enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. The mention of watermelons and cantaloupes in the story serves to underscore the sense of abundance and vitality that is missing from Miss Lottie’s life.

Together, these sensory details paint a vivid picture of a woman who has endured more than her fair share of pain and hardship. Miss Lottie’s marigolds symbolize everything that she has lost – her youth, her beauty, her dreams. Yet, even as she watches her flowers being destroyed, there is a glimmer of hope in her eyes. She knows that there is still beauty in the world, still a chance for things to get better. And perhaps that is the ultimate lesson of “Marigolds” – no matter how bleak things may seem, there is always hope.

The use of sensory details in a table

Sensory Detail Description Emotions Conveyed
Sight The marigolds are “fierce, fiery, and gold” and stand out in contrast to the dried-up, dusty yard. Sadness, Hopelessness, Vitality
Sound Miss Lottie’s cries of anguish and despair when her marigolds are destroyed. Sadness, Despair
Touch The marigolds feel “soft and cool and waxy” under Lizabeth’s feet. Wrongness, Regret
Smell The pungent odor of marigolds is likely a source of comfort for Miss Lottie. Comfort, Nostalgia
Taste The mention of watermelons and cantaloupes underscores the sense of vitality and abundance missing from Miss Lottie’s life. Contrast, Loss

By utilizing sensory details in this way, an author can create a fully realized world in which readers can immerse themselves, and can convey a wide range of emotions in a highly effective manner.

The Contrast Between the Beauty of Marigolds and the Ugliness of the Characters’ Actions

The marigolds in the story symbolize hope, beauty, and transformation. However, as beautiful as the marigolds are, the actions of the characters in the story are far from beautiful. Let’s explore this contrast further:

  • Miss Lottie’s Neglect: Miss Lottie neglects her garden, leaving it to wither away, much like her hope and ambition. This is a stark contrast to the bright and vibrant marigolds that continue to bloom despite the neglect.
  • The Children’s Ugliness: The children in the story react to Miss Lottie’s neglect by destroying her marigolds. This act of destruction is a reflection of their own ugliness, anger, and frustration, and stands in stark contrast to the beauty and hope represented by the marigolds.
  • The Dirtiness of Poverty: The story is set in a poor, run-down neighborhood where dirt and grime cover everything. The marigolds, however, bring a touch of beauty and hope to an otherwise bleak environment.

In addition to the contrasting themes mentioned above, the marigolds also symbolize transformation. The children in the story are able to see the beauty of the flowers, and their destruction of the marigolds ultimately leads to a transformation in their own attitudes and behavior.

Marigolds Symbolize: Contrasting Action/Theme:
Hope Miss Lottie’s Neglect
Beauty The Children’s Ugliness
Transformation The Dirtiness of Poverty

Thus, the marigolds in the story symbolize much more than just a pretty flower. Their beauty, hope, and ability to transform serve as a stark contrast to the ugliness and despair of the characters’ actions.

FAQ: What do the marigolds symbolize to Miss Lottie?

1. Why does Miss Lottie plant marigolds?

Miss Lottie plants marigolds because they remind her of a time in her youth when she lived in a beautiful, vibrant community filled with flowers.

2. What do the marigolds symbolize to Miss Lottie?

The marigolds are a symbol of hope and beauty amid the hardship and ugliness of poverty and dilapidation. They represent the possibility of a better life.

3. What do the marigolds represent to the community?

The marigolds represent a way to beautify and uplift their surroundings. They are a testament to the transformative power of nature.

4. Why do the children destroy the marigolds?

The children destroy the marigolds out of frustration with their own powerlessness. They see the flowers as a symbol of the unattainable beauty and hope they wish they had in their own lives.

5. What does Miss Lottie’s reaction to the destruction of the marigolds reveal?

Miss Lottie’s reaction reveals her deep attachment to the flowers and what they represent to her. She is devastated by the loss of hope and beauty that the marigolds represented.

6. What is the significance of the marigolds not blooming?

The marigolds not blooming represents the failure of hope and beauty in the face of overwhelming poverty and despair. It is a symbol of the way in which the community’s circumstances have crushed their spirits.

7. What is the ultimate message of the marigolds?

The ultimate message of the marigolds is one of the power of hope and beauty to endure even in the harshest of circumstances. They are a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

Closing Thoughts

Thank you for taking the time to learn about what the marigolds symbolize to Miss Lottie. This story reminds us of the importance of hope and beauty in our lives, and the power of nature to uplift and transform us. Please visit us again later for more stories that bring literature to life.