Essay on Theories in Marigolds by Eugenia Collier

Published: 2021-08-18
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Sewanee University of the South
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Stories and poem are artistic and require a lot of scrutiny during interpretation for one to acquire the actual meaning. Literary theories and criticism are good examples of devices used by the authors to convey a message. In case the leader has enough knowledge about different literary devices then one can manage to derive the ultimate meaning of a text better than a person who lacks the knowledge. When a text is presented there are multiple ways to interpret a text, and that is the reason why, multiple theories are used in the text interpretation to support an analyst argument. In this paper, the short story Marigolds by Eugenia Collier will be analyzed by use of different literary theories creating a better understanding of the text.

The Reader Response Criticism

The reader response criticism, use of this in analyzing a text the reader point of view and self-definition of words is applied. In this case, the reader becomes in control and can choose to interpret the book as he or she feels most relevant based on his or her understanding. Reader response criticism result to the death of an original author, and rebirth of another and interpretation of a text can take different directions. After reading Marigold, it is apparent the author is talking about her past life. The story Marigold revolves around a teenage girl Elizabeth who was born to a low-income family during the era of depression. The story is a memoir of author past life she narrates of the look of her village those days. She members how she played with other children who were as hungry ill as she was brought up. This is a good indicator of her longtime persisting poverty life. For example, the author states Whenever the memory of those marigolds flashes across my mind, a strange nostalgia comes with it and remains long after the picture has faded. I feel the chaotic emotions of adolescence, elusive as smoke again, yet as real as the potted geranium before me now. The author creates the mood of sadness in the text when she says in those days everybody we knew as hungry and hungry as was (Collier 1). Based on this remarks it is obvious the people had nothing good to relate to. Living in an era when men were superior she recalls her father crying in pain because she could not manage to support his family the time he was needed most. Twenty-two years, Maybelle, twenty-two years, he was saying, and I got nothing for you, nothing, and nothing. (Collier 3)

Feminist Theory

Feminist theory evaluate the role of a woman and man in the society as illustrated in any literature piece. Many instances, the man is placed superior and the woman as subordinate. Oppression, discrimination and female stereotyping is identified through this theory. The story is written by a woman who gives accounts of his past life. Though young, she remembers how her other older sibling, the girls had left home for early marriage. The girls were not entitled to a good education at the time and marriage was only hope for a good life, if only they got a good wealthy husband. In marigold the author states. By the time I was fourteen, my brother Joey and I were the only children left at our house, the older ones having left home for early marriage or the lure of the city (Collier 1). Although she was loved at home, Elizabeth felt inferior as a girl child. The women of that period had always been seen as inferior to men and with no reason Elizabeth had conformed to the society misplaced idea of women as inferiors. Elizabeth states the older ones having left home for early marriage or the lure of the city, and the two babies having been sent to relatives who might care for them better than we. Joey was three years younger than I, and a boy, and therefore vastly inferior. (Collier 1). Lack of employment caused Elizabeth father to lack a job to sustain his family, and he was never contented seeing his wife take the role of the man in the house. Exhausted, in pain and anger, he sobs because he saw it unmanly for a woman to provide. It aint right. Aint no man ought to eat his womans food year in and year out, and see his children running wild. Aint nothing right about that? (Collier 4). The economic status of the time was terrible and there were not enough jobs, but Elizabeth father saw himself as a failure for relying on the wife for support.

Psychoanalytic Theory

The psychoanalytic theory evaluates the characters and authors action. Every Person action is triggered by an intrinsic or extrinsic factor, and thats why human behavior varies. Using this theory, the id, ego and superego aspect result of the unconscious human functioning, the three aspects keep wrestling for dominance right from childhood to adult life. This theory will, therefore, analyze the authors featured behavior. Elizabeth though young she struggled between growing up and remaining young. Maybe a majority of her actions were influenced by the fact that she lived with her little brother. She felt grown and able to think but still felt young like a child. She is quickly lured by her younger brother to play in the valley although she felt not interested anymore. Discontented by the many games suggested by her brother, she agrees to go for a walk and to see Miss Lotties marigolds that were so beautiful. Childish and selfish, they felt the need to destroy the flowers with stones. While others children picked the stones, she looked away. She felt torn between fun and doing whats right I just stood there, peering through the bushes, torn between wanting to join the fun and feeling that it was all a bit silly. (Collier 2). It is obvious she understood what was right and wrong and she knew her action would be judge, her being the oldest. Elizabeths comforts herself by calling other children and yet she was a part of the simple acts Yall children get the stones, Ill show you how to use em. (Collier 3). Elizabeth loved her father so much such that when she heard him sob at night, she felt angry, angry to the extent that she took a walk at night to destroyed Miss Lotties marigold. Psychoanalytically, this is a kind of an Oedipus complex whereby a child feels more attracted to the parent of an opposite sex more.

Works cited

Collier, Eugenia. "Marigolds." African American literature: Voices in a tradition (1992): 485-498.

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