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How Eugenia Collier Depicts Poverty in Her Short Story, Marigolds

  • Subject: Life
  • Essay Topic: Marigolds
  • Page: 1
  • Words: 655
  • Published: 05 November 2018
  • Downloads: 98
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How Eugenia Collier Depicts Poverty in Her Short Story, Marigolds Essay

Imagine, you are reading a story in class and the teacher asks for the theme. Often, individuals in the class will come up with different answers. This may make you wonder if there is a single right answer. Since the theme is the moral or topic of the story, most stories can and do have more than one. For example the short story “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier, in this story more than one theme is shown and perceived through the main character Lizabeth. Examples of these themes are poverty, maturity, and the relationship between innocence and compassion. All of which can be found in modern day life.

The setting throughout the story presents the theme of poverty, which was common during the Great Depression. In these hard times Lizabeth’s parents constantly work to provide for the family, and their absence becomes one of the things motivating Lizabeth’s anger. When Lizabeth overhears her father cry to her mother about his deep feelings of uselessness, due to being unable to work and provide for his family, it causes Lizabeth to obtain an uncontrollable rage which leads to the destruction of Miss Lottie’s marigolds. (pages 221-222, Collier)

In the modern day, issues like hunger, thirst, and illness have more of an association with poverty. Poverty means that people lack the amount of minimum food and shelter that is necessary for sustainment of life, possibly with experience of lifelong troubles. The lack of materials can lead people to irrational things such as stealing or working illegal jobs. These outcomes encourage more trouble, such as, going to jail causing their family to be further in debt for either charges or bail loans.

The destruction of Miss Lottie’s marigolds leads to the themes of maturity, innocence, and compassion, which tie together. In lines 370-375, Lizabeth states that “only through a loss of innocence can one gain compassion”. In her case, the loss of innocence will result in maturity. While Lizabeth reflects on how ashamed she felt standing in the ruined marigolds a sudden realization of her lost innocence gave her maturity. Then, when she was older, Lizabeth realized the reason she felt ashamed was because she had destroyed the one beauty Ms. Lottie had created in a midst of the poverty and ugliness. The moment of lost innocence grants Lizabeth her maturity and compassion.

In modern day, “people think the loss of innocence as meaning the loss of virginity, but this is far from true. Innocence involves an unseeing acceptance of things at face value, an ignorance of the area below the surface.”(lines 369-373, Collier) “This was the beginning of compassion, and one cannot have both compassion and innocence.” (lines 374-375, Collier) Knowing compassion means having awareness of the suffering of others with sympathy for the events that affect their lives. You may have experienced this when you friend’s pet or loved one died and you comforted them and showed your sympathy. The loss of innocence for this case would be the loss of ignorance towards death.

Nowadays, maturity is often associated with the age of 18, when you become a legal adult. However maturity is the time of reaching the most advanced stage in the process of becoming fully grown or developed. For instance when people say you appear mature for your age, this often means you have an advanced mindset for your age. At one time or another you may have needed to be a more mature person while monitoring younger children.

Many times the author won’t provide the theme but rather let you figure it out and see what it means to you, like a form of symbolism. In this story the author presents a few examples of the theme that you may find in life at one point or another. A story can have more than one theme in order to show many lessons or hardships we may go through during our lives. After all, what is life without its ups and downs?

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