What Do the Marigolds Symbolize in This Story? Uncovering the deeper meanings behind the popular flower in literature

If you’ve read the short story “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier, you might be wondering what the marigolds symbolize in this story. Many readers have speculated that these flowers represent hope and innocence, while others argue that they symbolize destruction and despair. Whatever your interpretation, there’s no denying that the marigolds play a significant role in this poignant tale.

Set during the Great Depression in a rural town of Maryland, “Marigolds” explores the difficult lives of impoverished families and the desperate measures they take to survive. Through the eyes of a young girl named Lizabeth, we witness the harsh realities of poverty, racism, and violence. Despite the bleak circumstances, Lizabeth finds solace in tending to a patch of marigolds near her house. But when she destroys the flowers in a fit of rage, she must confront the painful truth about the world she lives in.

So, what do the marigolds symbolize in this story? To answer this question, we must delve deeper into the themes of the story and the author’s intent. Whether you view the marigolds as a symbol of hope or despair, they serve as a powerful metaphor for the fragility of innocence and the destructive forces of poverty and violence. Through Lizabeth’s journey, we are reminded of the importance of empathy, compassion, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Symbolism of Flowers in Literature

Flowers have been used as symbolic elements in literature since time immemorial. The vivid colors, fragrance, and beauty of flowers have represented various emotions, moods, and themes in literature. They have been used to convey the author’s message subtly and evoke emotional responses in the reader. One such flower often used in literature to represent strong emotions is marigold.

Marigold, also known as the herb of the sun, represents warmth, compassion, and fierce love. It is often associated with the sun and is believed to have healing qualities. The flower’s vibrant golden and orange hues symbolize hope and optimism and are used to represent new beginnings.

Marigold Symbolism in the Story

  • The marigolds in the story “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier represent hope, beauty, and courage. They act as a symbol of transformation and growing up. Lizabeth, the protagonist of the story, feels powerless and angry because of her family’s financial struggles and takes out her frustration by destroying Miss Lottie’s marigold garden. However, she later realizes that the garden was a symbol of hope for Miss Lottie and destroys something beautiful, which was the only beauty left in her world.
  • The marigolds in the story also symbolize the struggle between innocence and maturity. Lizabeth is on the cusp of puberty, and the marigolds represent the loss of her childhood innocence and the new realities she must face. The marigolds’ destruction marks the end of her childhood and the beginning of her adult life, where she must learn to cope with the harsh realities of the world.
  • The marigolds also represent Miss Lottie’s struggles and hopes. The garden symbolizes her determination to bring beauty into a barren world. Her unwavering faith in the beauty of life, represented by the marigold garden, gives her the strength to move on, even when everything seems bleak.


In the literature world, flowers have always been used as a symbol of hope, love, passion, and new beginnings. The marigolds in “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier represent a variety of emotions, from hope to despair, beauty to ugliness, and innocence to maturity. The author uses the marigold to represent the conflicts within the characters, their hopes, and ultimately their growth. The story is a testament to the power of symbolism and how even small things like a flower can represent deep emotions and struggles.

RosePassion, Love, Romance
LilyPurity, Innocence, Renewal
DaisyHope, Youth, Joy
PoppyRemembrance, Sleep, Death
Cherry BlossomTransient Beauty, Renewal, Hope

Flowers have been used to represent different emotions in literature, and their symbolism has evolved over time. The table above shows some of the common flowers used in literature and their symbolism. Reading literature with a keen eye for symbolism can lead to a deeper understanding of the author’s message and a more profound appreciation of the work.

Historical Significance of Marigolds

The marigold has been used throughout history for medicinal, culinary, and decorative purposes. In ancient cultures such as the Aztecs and Greeks, marigold petals were often used for medicinal purposes as they were believed to have healing properties for various ailments. Additionally, the flower was commonly used in cooking as a spice to add flavor to dishes.

  • In Hindu culture, marigolds are considered sacred and are often used in religious ceremonies and decorations.
  • In Mexico, marigolds are used during Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations as decorations and offerings to the deceased.
  • In Victorian England, marigolds were given various meanings in the language of flowers. They were often associated with jealousy or grief but could also symbolize creativity and passion.

Furthermore, marigolds have been used for their pest-repelling properties in gardens. The plants release a strong aroma that helps to deter pests and insects from damaging crops. This attribute makes marigolds a popular choice for companion planting in organic gardening.

Victorian EnglandJealousy/Grief or Passion/Creativity

In Sue Monk Kidd’s short story “Marigolds,” the flower takes on a symbolic meaning beyond its historical significance. The marigolds in the story represent hope and beauty amidst despair and hopelessness. The protagonist, Lizabeth, is inspired to destroy the marigolds due to her frustration with poverty and her lack of control over her life’s circumstances. However, through her actions, she ultimately realizes the beauty and hope that the marigolds bring to her impoverished community.

Marigold uses in traditional medicine

Marigold, also known as Calendula officinalis, has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It has various therapeutic properties that are beneficial for treating a wide range of health conditions. Here are some of its uses in traditional medicine:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties: Marigold has potent anti-inflammatory properties that help in reducing inflammation and swelling in the body. It is also effective in treating skin inflammation caused by conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis.
  • Wound healing: Marigold has wound healing properties that stimulate the growth of new tissue and promote the healing of damaged skin. It is commonly used for treating skin wounds, cuts, and abrasions.
  • Antimicrobial activity: Marigold has antimicrobial properties that help in inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi. It is effective in treating skin infections such as ringworm and athlete’s foot.

The therapeutic properties of marigold are mainly due to the presence of various active compounds such as flavonoids, triterpenoids, and carotenoids. These compounds have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties that make marigold an effective medicinal plant.

Here is a table showing the various compounds present in marigold and their therapeutic benefits:

CompoundTherapeutic Benefits
FlavonoidsAntioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial properties
TriterpenoidsAnti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antioxidant properties
CarotenoidsAntioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties

Overall, marigold is a valuable medicinal plant that has numerous therapeutic properties. It is commonly used in traditional medicine for treating various health conditions, especially those related to skin inflammation and infection.

Cultural significance of marigolds in different societies

Marigolds have been cultivated and valued for their beauty and various uses in many cultures around the world. In addition to their use in religious ceremonies and festivals, marigolds have been used in medicine, food, and even as natural insecticides. Here are some examples of the cultural significance of marigolds in different societies:

  • Mexico: Marigolds are considered the flower of the dead and are used to honor deceased loved ones during the Day of the Dead festival. They are also used medicinally to treat a variety of ailments, such as digestive issues and skin irritations.
  • India: Marigolds are associated with the Hindu goddess Lakshmi and are used in religious ceremonies to bring prosperity and good luck. They are also used medicinally to treat ailments such as fever, skin rashes, and eye infections.
  • Europe: Marigolds were popular in medieval Europe as a remedy for a variety of ailments such as toothaches, headaches, and jaundice. They were also used in cooking as a substitute for saffron and to flavor dishes.

In addition to their cultural significance, marigolds have also been the subject of research for their potential medicinal properties. Studies have shown that marigolds have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and may be useful in treating conditions such as eczema and acne.

All in all, the marigold flower is a globally recognized symbol of good health and positive energy. Regardless of where you’re from, the vibrant orange and yellow hues of the marigold can brighten up anyone’s day, adding a bit of beauty and vitality to your life.

So, next time you see a marigold, remember its rich cultural history and the many benefits it can offer!

CountrySignificance of Marigolds
MexicoThe flower of the dead, used in Day of the Dead festivals and medicinally to treat various ailments.
IndiaAssociated with Hindu goddess Lakshmi, used in religious ceremonies for good fortune and medicinally to treat ailments.
EuropeUsed in medieval times as remedy for various ailments, as cooking ingredient, and for decoration.

Table showing the cultural significance of marigolds in different societies.

The Role of Marigolds in Gardening

Aside from being a symbol in the story, marigolds play a significant role in gardening. Here are some of the ways:

  • Pest control: Marigolds are known to ward off pests like mosquitoes and nematodes. Planting them in your garden can help protect your other crops from these pests.
  • Soil improvement: Marigolds are natural soil aerators. Their roots release a substance that helps break up hard soil which makes it easier for other plants’ roots to penetrate and grow, promoting healthier soil.
  • Companion planting: Marigolds make great companion plants for vegetables like tomatoes, squash, and beans. They attract beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings that feed on harmful pests, increasing the productivity of your garden.

There are different types of marigolds to choose from, each with its unique features. You can opt for the French marigold, which is smaller and more compact, or the African marigold, which is larger and its flowers come in a wider range of colors.

Marigolds are also relatively easy to care for. They don’t require much attention, but they need enough sunlight and water to thrive. Ensure to plant them in well-drained soil and water them regularly.

Pest controlAfrican marigold
Soil improvementFrench marigold
Companion plantingSignet marigold

In conclusion, marigolds are not just mere decorations in your garden. They also offer various benefits that make them a valuable addition to any gardener’s collection.

Religious associations of marigolds

The bright and colorful marigold flower holds significant religious associations in different cultures around the world. Here are some of the most prominent:

  • In Christianity, marigolds are associated with the Virgin Mary. Some legends say that the flowers grew in the places where Mary’s tears fell, while others believe that they bloomed in the path of her travels.
  • In Hinduism, marigolds are often used in religious ceremonies, particularly during the festive season of Diwali. The flowers symbolize purity, auspiciousness, and good luck.
  • In Aztec culture, marigolds were dedicated to the goddess Xochiquetzal, who was associated with fertility, beauty, and love. The flowers were also used in Day of the Dead celebrations as offerings to the dead.

Aside from their religious significance, marigolds also have medicinal properties and are commonly used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments. They are said to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties.

Here’s a table summarizing some of the different religious associations of marigolds:

ChristianityThe Virgin Mary
HinduismPurity, auspiciousness, and good luck
AztecGoddess Xochiquetzal; Day of the Dead offerings

Overall, marigolds are deeply rooted in different religious and cultural traditions, and their bright and vibrant colors make them a popular choice for decorations and offerings in various ceremonies and celebrations.

Marigolds in art and music

Marigolds have been a popular symbol in various forms of art and music. From ancient times, artists and musicians have been inspired by the vibrant colors and distinct shape of marigolds to convey a range of emotions and concepts. In this section, we will explore how marigolds have been used as a symbol in art and music.

  • Marigolds in paintings: Marigolds have been a popular subject in art for centuries. They have been depicted in paintings from various cultures, including Mexican, Indian, and Chinese. In Mexican art, marigolds are often associated with the Day of the Dead, a holiday that celebrates the souls of the deceased. They represent the fragility of life and the fleeting nature of beauty. Indian artists use marigolds to represent wealth, joy, and happiness. In Chinese culture, marigolds are believed to bring good luck and prosperity.
  • Marigolds in music: Marigolds have also been mentioned in numerous songs over the years. For example, in the song “Marigold” by Nirvana, the lyrics convey a sense of longing and regret:
  • Lyrics:Meaning:
    “As we ebb and we flow”Life’s ups and downs
    “All of this will be gone”The fleeting nature of beauty
    “Are you happy where you’re sleeping?”Questioning the value of material possessions
  • Marigolds in poetry: Marigolds have been used as a symbol in poetry as well. In Pablo Neruda’s famous poem “Love Sonnet XVII,” he compares the beauty of his lover to marigolds:
  • “I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
    I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
    So I love you because I know no other way than this:
    Where ‘I’ does not exist, nor ‘you’,
    So close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
    So close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.”
    (Translated by Mark Eisner)

  • Marigolds in film: In the 1994 movie “The Shawshank Redemption,” marigolds are used as a symbol of hope and perseverance. The character Andy Dufresne, who is wrongfully imprisoned, hides a set of rock carving tools inside a Bible and asks his friend Red to retrieve them. Andy tells Red that if he ever gets out of prison, he should go to a specific field and look for a rock that has no earthly business in a Maine hayfield. Underneath the rock, Red finds a letter from Andy explaining that he has gone to Mexico and asking Red to join him. The field where Red finds the rock is covered in marigolds, symbolizing hope, freedom, and new beginnings.

The above examples show that marigolds have been used as a symbol in various forms of art and music. Whether used to represent the fleeting nature of beauty or as a metaphor for hope and perseverance, marigolds continue to captivate and inspire artists and musicians around the world.

The Connection Between Marigold Colors and Their Meanings

Marigolds are an amazing flower species with diverse colors and meanings. In this section, we will explore the connection between marigold colors and what they symbolize.

  • Orange Marigolds: Orange is a bright and uplifting color that symbolizes joy, friendship, enthusiasm, and warmth. When marigolds are in this color, they are often associated with good fortune, vibrancy, and happiness.
  • Yellow Marigolds: Yellow represents communication, positivity, and optimism. In the context of marigolds, it is associated with the sun, energy, and light. Yellow marigolds symbolize warmth, new beginnings, and the idea of “seizing the day.”
  • Red Marigolds: Red is a bold and powerful color that symbolizes love, passion, and strong emotions. In marigolds, it is often related to courage, strength, and bravery. Red marigolds are often given as a gift to encourage someone to take action or as a symbol of one’s strength in adversity.
  • White Marigolds: White represents purity, innocence, and simplicity. In marigolds, they signify positivity, clarity, and a fresh start. White marigolds are often seen as reminders of new beginnings and the promise of a better tomorrow.
  • Bicolored Marigolds: These marigolds are a combination of two colors, which gives them a more complex meaning. For example, a red and yellow marigold symbolizes the energy of yellow and the passion of red. Similarly, orange and yellow marigolds represent enthusiasm and communication, respectively.

The Significance of the Number 8 in Marigolds

Marigolds are known to have a spiritual connection that goes beyond their colors. The number 8 holds great significance in Hindu mythology and is often associated with marigolds. In Hinduism, the eight petals of the marigold represent the eight directions of the universe and its cosmic order.

The number 8 also has a deep meaning in Chinese culture. It is seen as a symbol of good luck, prosperity, and wealth. Many believe that the eight petals of the marigold can bring abundance and success into one’s life.

Significance of the Number 8 in MarigoldsExample
Representing the eight directions of the universeOffering marigolds at a temple or in a home to bring positivity and balance to all directions.
Symbolizing good luck and prosperityUsing eight marigolds during a wedding ceremony to bring happiness and wealth to the newlyweds.
Attracting abundance and successSprinkling eight marigold petals on important documents or in a workplace to bring good fortune and prosperity.

Overall, marigolds are much more than just a beautiful flower. They carry cultural significance and deep symbolic meanings. Understanding the symbolism behind the colors and numbers of marigolds can enhance our appreciation for their beauty and add meaning to our lives.

Folklore and myths surrounding marigolds

Marigolds have been celebrated in folklore and mythology throughout different cultures. Here are some fascinating stories:

  • Ancient Greeks associated marigolds with the sun god, Apollo. They believed that marigolds had the power to rejuvenate and heal.
  • In Hindu mythology, marigolds are considered to be a symbol of sacrifice and devotion. It is believed that offering marigolds to the gods can bring good fortune and positive energy.
  • Marigolds are also associated with the sun in Mexican folklore. It is believed that marigolds have the power to guide the spirits of loved ones during the Day of the Dead, a holiday that celebrates deceased ancestors.

One interesting aspect of the marigold is the significance of the number nine. In many cultures, marigolds are planted in groups of nine, which are believed to have a special significance:

Country/CultureSignificance of Nine Marigolds
IndiaNine marigolds are used in Hindu rituals to represent the nine planets of the solar system
MexicoNine marigolds are used to decorate altars for the Day of the Dead, representing the nine levels of the underworld
ChinaNine marigolds are used to represent a wish for long-lasting love or happiness

Whether you plant marigolds for their vibrant color or their rich symbolism, they are a fascinating flower with deep roots in culture and tradition.

Literary Analysis of Marigold Symbolism in Different Works of Literature

Marigolds have often been a popular symbol in numerous works of literature. They are not only depicted as a reference to the flower itself, but also as a representation of several emotions and themes in the story. Here are some of the most significant literary analyses of marigold symbolism:

  • Hope and Happiness: In some works of literature, marigolds are used to symbolize hope and happiness. This could be due to the radiant color of the flower, which is often associated with positivity and optimism. For instance, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter,” marigolds are used to symbolize the hope that Hester Prynne’s daughter Pearl would bring to her life.
  • Death and Mourning: In some works of literature, marigolds are associated with death and mourning. This could be due to the flower’s association with the sun and the afterlife. For instance, in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” marigolds are used to symbolize the death of Colonel Aureliano Buendia.
  • Change and Transformation: In some works of literature, marigolds are used to symbolize change and transformation. This could be due to the fact that marigolds go through several stages of growth before they fully bloom. For instance, in Jeanette Walls’ “The Glass Castle,” marigolds are used to symbolize the changes that the protagonist undergoes throughout her life.

The Significance of Marigold Symbolism in “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier

Eugenia Collier’s short story “Marigolds” is a poignant representation of the theme of innocence lost. The story revolves around the main character, Lizabeth, as she navigates the difficult transition from childhood to adulthood. In the story, the marigolds symbolize the loss of innocence and the harsh reality of the world.

The marigolds in “Marigolds” are not only a symbol of the flower itself, but also represent the hope and sweetness of childhood. The destruction of the marigolds by Lizabeth marks the end of her childhood and the harsh reality of the world that she must face. Furthermore, the shriveled marigolds serve as a reminder of the harshness of the world and the inevitable loss of innocence that comes with growing up.

The use of marigolds in Collier’s “Marigolds” is a powerful example of how symbolism can be used to convey complex themes and emotions. The marigolds represent the beauty and innocence of childhood, but also serve as a reminder of the challenges of adulthood.

The Cultural Significance of Marigolds

Marigolds are not only a popular symbol in literature, but they also have significant cultural importance in many countries around the world. In Mexico, marigolds are often associated with the Day of the Dead, a holiday that honors the dead and celebrates life. The bright orange and yellow marigolds are placed on altars and graves, and are believed to guide the spirits of the dead back to the world of the living.

In India, marigolds are often used in Hindu religious ceremonies and weddings. The flower is believed to be a symbol of good fortune and luck, and is used to decorate homes and temples during festivals and celebrations.

CountrySignificance of Marigolds
MexicoAssociated with the Day of the Dead and believed to guide the spirits of the dead back to the world of the living
IndiaSymbol of good fortune and luck, often used in religious ceremonies and weddings
ChinaBelieved to have healing properties, especially for the digestive system

The cultural significance of marigolds in different countries highlights the universal appeal of the flower. Whether used in literature or in cultural practices, marigolds continue to captivate people with their beauty and symbolic significance.

What Do the Marigolds Symbolize in This Story?

1. What is the story about?

The story is about a young girl’s struggle to understand the world around her and her own emotions.

2. Why are marigolds important in the story?

Marigolds are important in the story because they serve as a powerful symbol of hope and beauty in the midst of despair.

3. What do the marigolds represent?

The marigolds represent hope, beauty, and the potential for growth and change.

4. How does the young girl feel about the marigolds?

The young girl initially sees the marigolds as a source of frustration and anger, but eventually comes to see them as a symbol of hope.

5. What is the significance of the marigolds being destroyed?

The destruction of the marigolds represents the destruction of hope and beauty in the young girl’s world, and serves as a turning point in her emotional journey.

6. How do the marigolds relate to the title of the story?

The marigolds relate to the title of the story because they serve as a symbol of the hope and beauty that can be found even in the midst of hardship and struggle.

7. What is the lesson of the story?

The lesson of the story is that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope and beauty to be found if we are willing to look for it.

Closing Thoughts

In conclusion, the marigolds in this story represent hope, beauty, and the potential for growth and change. Though they are initially seen as a source of frustration and anger, they come to serve as a powerful symbol of hope for the young girl in the story. The destruction of the marigolds represents the destruction of hope and beauty in the young girl’s world, but ultimately serves as a turning point in her emotional journey. So, thank you for reading and remember to keep looking for the hope and beauty in the world around you. Come back soon for more engaging content.