The story “Marigolds” by Eugenia W. Collier tells us of a fifteen year old girl coming into young adulthood during the great depression. It discusses the most memorable childhood memories of Elizabeth’s life in poverty, especially Miss Lottie’s beautiful marigolds. The life changes that this young girl passes through represents the end of childhood innocence into a recognition of reality in the cruel world in which she finds herself. This leads her into a new world of compassion.

It is through this act that Elizabeth steps into an adult personality out of a childish mentality.The process in which she enters adulthood is represented by symbolism, vivid imagery, and details provide by Collier. The first part of Elizabeth’s transition from the innocent and immature child she is at the beginning of this story. As a child growing up with very little in a rural town filled with other children just like her Elizabeth sees no difference in her lifestyle. To the extent of her knowledge this is how everyone was living. “We children, of course, were only vaguely aware to the extent of our poverty.

Having no radios, and few newspapers, and no magazines we were somewhat unaware of the world outside our community. ” (136). this is her age of unknowing innocence. Collier describes Elizabeth’s first symbolic memory of this small town as dust. “ dust- the brown, crumbly dust of late summer- arid, sterile dust that gets into the eyes and makes them water” (136). This dust shows how Elizabeth felt inside and how many others in her community felt.

Although they were aware of the “American dream” people in her community never truly believed it existed because they had never seen it.All they had seen was infertile dust which could not produce life for them. This was the world Elizabeth lived in and how she felt inside. One night after an uneventful day of pranks she awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of a conversation going on between her mother and father. As she heard the agony and sadness in the crying voice of her father her compassion and innocence has ended. In this moment everything she has grown to know is flipped upside down.

She now saw the roles of her parents switch.Her mother was now a strong leader. This brought her confusion and outrage. The change in dominance had shaken her out of her little world and shoved her into an unknown place.

With this new realization of a changing life the feeling of her innocence destruction launches her into a rampage. She wakes her younger brother and they leave in the middle of the night. As they arrive at Miss Lottie’s house Elizabeth destroys the marigolds with anger in her heart and tears streaming down her face.Once she comes out of the trance she looks up to see the old woman standing above her.

“ I gazed at the immobile face with the sad, weary eyes, I gazed upon a kind of reality which is hidden to childhood. ” (143). this is the moment when adulthood begins for Elizabeth. The look on Miss Lottie’s face showed the face of a “broken old woman” (143). This represented the poverty and struggles Elizabeth had been through coming to the surface and letting those feelings be acknowledged by her, but also in this sadness there was a new hope.

Not for things to change themselves, but for someone to change them. Although she did not know this at the time years later she realizes what true innocence is. The story says “innocence is the unseeing acceptance of things at face value” (143). Up until this moment she was a child willing to believe only the things she saw, after this she began to see a new world where there was rich and poor.

She saw a world with possibilities for her.