In “Marigolds” what does the narrator mean when she says, “…these days are ill-defined in my memory, running together and combining like a fresh watercolor painting left out in the rain”?

Updated 21 March, 2023
In "Marigolds," the narrator is reflecting on her childhood memories and how they have become blurred and indistinct over time. She describes these memories as "ill-defined," suggesting that they lack clear boundaries and are difficult to separate from one another. The comparison to a "fresh watercolor painting left out in the rain" evokes the image of colors running and blending together, further emphasizing the idea of memories blending and merging into each other.
Detailed answer:

In "Marigolds," the narrator's statement "these days are ill-defined in my memory, running together and combining like a fresh watercolor painting left out in the rain" refers to her childhood memories and how they have faded and become difficult to distinguish from one another. As the story progresses, the narrator reflects on her childhood and the events that unfolded, including the night when she and her friends destroyed Miss Lottie's marigold garden. The memory of that night is particularly vivid for the narrator, but she acknowledges that her recollection of the surrounding events is hazy and indistinct.

The use of the simile "like a fresh watercolor painting left out in the rain" further emphasizes the idea of memories becoming blurred and unclear over time. The vivid colors and sharp lines of a watercolor painting are easily washed away by rain, leaving behind a blurry and indistinct image. Similarly, the narrator's memories of her childhood have become faded and difficult to distinguish as time has passed.

This statement also highlights the idea of nostalgia and the selective nature of memory. The narrator's memories are not presented as a coherent narrative but rather as a series of disjointed fragments, suggesting that her recollection of the past is fragmented and incomplete. The narrator's use of the phrase "ill-defined" implies that she cannot remember everything clearly and that her memories are blurred.

Overall, the narrator's statement reflects the way that time can erode and distort memories, leaving behind only hazy recollections of events that were once vivid and distinct. It also underscores the idea that memory is not a static entity but rather a fluid and ever-changing one that can be shaped by our experiences and emotions.

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