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“Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier Objectives: 1. to understand and appreciate a coming-of-age short story 2. examine setting in a short story 3. draw conclusions about a short story a shanty is a roughly built hut shanty-town is a poor area where people live in such dwelling Vocabulary: bravado compassion degradation futile impotent impoverished perverse poignantly squalor stoicism Literary Term: Elements of the Plot exposition rising action o conflict – external, internal climax falling action Questions to consider while reading: Where does Lizabeth live? Why are Lizabeth and her brother, Joey alone every day? Why do the children go to Miss Lottie‟s house? What is Miss Lottie like? Set a Purpose: How do the children get along with Miss Lottie? “Marigolds” Discussion Questions – Due Friday, October 21, 2005 ANSWERS 1. Who is Miss Lottie? (pg.79) She is a big frame woman; she ahs smooth, reddish- brown skin. She has Indian-like features. She is very unemotional in her facial expression. She didn’t like intruders and she never left her yard nor did she have any visitors. 2. Why are the marigolds important to the narrator? 3. Identify how the story changes. At the top of page 78, starting with “I was loafing…” to “…Y‟all got „em all while they was still green.” It shifts its focus from present daydreams to past events, and characters and dialogue are added. 4. Setting: Think about how the description of Miss Lottie‟s house is a reflection of her social standing. (Page 78) Is she better or worse off than Lizabeth and her brother? She is probably worse off. The house she lives in is described as the most wretched, and her “queer headed” son on the porch adds to the impression of lowliness. 5. tragicomic (pg. 78) means “having both tragic (sad) and comic (funny) elements.” Describe what is tragic about the children and what is comic. The children’s appearance may be comical because they are dressed in an odd assortment of poorly fitting clothes. However, the reason they are dressed that way is tragic-they are too poor to afford better clothes. 6. What does the narrator mean when she says “old fears have a way of clinging like cobwebs.”? People keep irrational childhood fears even after they’re old enough to know that the fears foolish. What type of literary device is this? (page 79) simile 7. What conclusions can you draw from the description about the likelihood that Miss Lottie will punish the children for their actions? She won’t punish them because she is very old and she moves slowly. 8. Why do you think the children “pick on” Miss Lottie? They know that she is powerless and that she won’t be able to do anything to them because she can’t catch them. 9. Conflict: Identify the conflict Lizabeth struggles with following the attack on Miss Lottie. She is torn between feeling sorry for attacking Miss Lottie and feeling that she somehow had a right to attack her. 10.What feelings are at the root of her conflict? Deep down, Lizabeth knows she behaved childishly and she is angry at herself for doing so. 11.Summarize the conversation that Lizabeth overhears. She overhears her father crying and her perception of her father changes drastically. How does the sound of her father‟s crying affect her? It makes her feel confused, helpless, and angry. 12.What clues in the text indicate that Lizabeth‟s father has been out of work for a very long time? Her father is extremely upset abut having to rely on his wife to support the family “year in and year out.” He probably wouldn’t be so upset if he had been out of work only a short time. 13.Setting: Consider the significance of the hour (it‟s just after 4 A.M.) What are some characteristics of time just before dawn? (page 83) Four o’clock in the morning is a time when few people are awake and it is still mostly dark. It is a time when a person who is awake can easily feel “alone in the world.” The early hour tends to isolate Lizabeth and make the reader wonder what she plans to do. 14.Climax: What is the climax or turning point of the story? The climax occurs when Lizabeth returns to Miss Lottie’s garden and destroys it. (p.84) Here is where Lizabeth loses control and strike out as a result of the conflicts she has been struggling with. 15.How does Lizabeth change in the moment she comes face to face with Miss Lottie? What does she recognize in Miss Lottie‟s face? Lizabeth realizes that as hard as her life is, Miss Lottie’s life is much more difficult and without hope – she is able to feel compassion for Miss Lottie. 16.Why does Miss Lottie never plant marigolds again, despite Lizabeth‟s “wild contrition” – her sincere remorse? Lizabeth’s destruction of the marigolds also destroyed Miss Lottie’s last hope and desire to create beauty. Lizabeth “defeated” Miss Lottie. 17.Interpret what marigolds symbolized to Miss Lottie and what they symbolize to the grown-up Lizabeth? For Miss Lottie, the marigolds were a symbol of beauty and hope in an otherwise hopeless environment. For Lizabeth, they symbolize the beginning of her life as an adult. They may also serve as a reminder of her past and her lack of humility. 18.What do you think the narrator means at the end of the story when she says that she too has planted marigold? She has also tried to create beauty amid ugly circumstances. She has tried not to get depressed even in hopeless situations.
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