Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Marigolds" by Eugenia Collier

For the last few years, I have been analyzing a short story with my students titled "Marigolds" by Eugenia Collier. With this story, we focus on the terms internal and external conflict and epiphany.

The main character, Lizabeth, lives in rural Maryland during The Great Depression, and for fun, she and the children in the neighborhood, bother Miss Lottie, one of their neighbors, and her beautiful marigolds.

Lizabeth is caught between being an adult and a child: "And I remember, that year, a strange restlessness of body and spirit, a feeling that something old and familiar was ending, and something unknown and therefore terrifying was beginning."

Her internal conflicts surround whether or not she should join the younger children in making fun of Miss Lottie. She succumbs to the peer pressure and joins the other children in throwing rocks that severed the heads of several of Miss Lottie's marigolds: "The child in me sulked and said it was all in fun, but the woman in me flinched at the thought of the malicious attack that I had led."

Lizabeth overhears her father crying and exclaiming: "It ain't right. Ain't no man ought to eat his woman's food year in and year out, and see his children running wild. Ain't nothing right about that." Not knowing what to do with the emotions that hearing her father crying evoked, Lizabeth goes out and destroys Miss Lottie's beautiful marigolds.

While in the process of destroying the marigolds, Miss Lottie approaches Lizabeth looking broken, and Lizabeth has an epiphany moment: "that was the moment when childhood faded and womanhood began." Lizabeth goes a step further and acknowledges the fact that becoming an adult means having compassion and "one can not have both compassion and innocence."

I went through this whole discussion with my students about compassion, and we discussed things that a kindergartner might say to his teacher, compared to what a ninth grade might say to his teacher. A kindergartner may say "your hair is ugly," but a ninth grader would never say something like that. Right?

So, I was teaching my class on yesterday. We were having a great lesson on adverbs, when a student raised his hand.

He said:

"Ms. Stallworth, what kind of shoes are you wearing?"

I lifted my pants leg and showed the students my shoes, and I told him that they were clogs.

My clogs

He looked for a minute and said very seriously:

"I don't like them; they are funny looking."

I broke out in a gut wrenching laugh.

The entire class broke out into an entire discussion on which pair of my shoes they liked the most.

All I can say is either the lesson on compassion was unsuccessful, or they have not made that transition from childhood to adulthood like Lizabeth from "Marigolds."

Thank God that I have tough skin.

Long live the clog, or maybe not!!!!


Tracy Ricks said...

Good blog!! But I was starting to wonder if I am
Caught up in a time war between young and old because I LOVE the clogs! Lol

candi said...

LOL! Kids I tell ya!

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