In "Marigolds" by Eugenia Collier, the definition of "prosperity" holds a significant meaning in the context of the story's setting. The story is set during the Great Depression, a time of economic hardship and poverty. Lizabeth, the protagonist, and her family live in a shantytown on the outskirts of town, struggling to make ends meet. The concept of prosperity is used to represent the state of being successful, thriving, and having enough resources to live comfortably. Lizabeth's mother, for instance, dreams of a better life and worries about the family's future. She sees the marigolds as a symbol of hope and beauty, and their existence represents the possibility of prosperity in a community filled with hardship.
The destruction of the marigolds by Lizabeth and her friends is a significant turning point in the story. The act symbolizes the loss of hope and the destruction of prosperity in the community. As Lizabeth reflects on her actions, she realizes the gravity of her actions and the impact it has on Miss Lottie's only source of joy. She describes the scene, saying, "The destruction of Miss Lottie's marigolds was the one act that impoverished the town. The ranks of the poor swelled with every disillusioned person who had once hoped to rise above his circumstances, to leave the town that bred his weariness and despair for the opportunities of the city, to make a better life somewhere, anywhere" (Collier, 168).
Thus, the term "prosperity" in "Marigolds" symbolizes the possibility of hope and a better life, particularly in a time of economic hardship. The destruction of the marigolds signifies the loss of this hope and the destruction of prosperity in the community.
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