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Eugenia Collier was born on April 6, 1928. Her parents raised her in a loving home, and she grew up influenced by her father’s love of poetry. Collier says that one of her happiest memories was sitting on her fathers lap as he read poems to her. As Collier grew up she was always very sharp and went to Howard University as soon as possible. “She received her B.A. degree from Howard University (magna cum laude) in 1948.” After Howard University, she went to Columbia University to get her M.A, and the University of Maryland for her Ph. D. Eugenia Collier’s short story “Marigolds” focuses on growing up in the Great Depression. Both the character Lizabeth in “Marigolds”and Collier were born and grew up in Maryland. Lizabeth and Collier also both grew up in the time of the Great Deppression. Collier is African American (like Lizabeth), and she uses this to display the struggles of growing up with prejudice. These connections from Colliers’ life display how she used her own experiences to create her work.
“Marigolds” focuses on a young girl named Lizabeth. She grows up and usually follows the other children when they taunt and tease the neighbors. One neighbor is the target of their mischievousness. Mrs. Lottie tends her garden every day, and never leaves it. The children torment her by throwing things at her like rocks and sticks. One day Lizabeth starts to grow up and have mixed feeling of tormenting this old woman. She realizes that she’s grown up, and she feels ashamed. The next day she hears her father crying because of the Great Depression. Her world falls apart. She thought she grew up, but now the strongest man in her life starts sobbing. She runs to Mrs. Lotties’ house and rips up the marigolds in her garden in despair. Marigolds in this story represent the beauty in her life. When her world falls apart, the beauty seems to have no purpose. It doesn’t make sense. Finally, Lizabeth grows up and learns to plant new marigolds of her own. She finds her beauty even in the mess. “The title is symbolic of things that people put in their barren lives as a source of hope and beauty’. Marigolds show that even when your world may seem to crumble, there is always a chance for new growth. As people grow up, they seem to lose our innocence. They lose their childish games and trade them for being unsure in life. But, as we see in this story, there is always beauty to find, in every stage of life.
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