What is the theme, or message, in the short story "Marigolds" by Eugenia Collier?

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An important message or theme of the story is that the ability to understand and see other people—especially outsiders—as fully human is the beginning of maturity into adulthood.

Lizabeth is a young adolescent who remembers vividly the day she led the other children in taunting old Miss Lottie as a witch and destroying her beautifully tended marigolds.

We can understand how Lizabeth vented the rage she felt at her own constricted, impoverished life on an old woman who couldn't easily fight back. The story is set in the Depression, and Lizabeth and her brother Joey live in a shack with her parents. Her mother works all day as a maid, and her father goes out each day in search of the work he never finds. Lizabeth feels a sense of affront that, amid all the squalor and ugliness in which they live, Miss Lottie would dare to grow beautiful flowers.

In tormenting Miss Lottie and ripping up what she tried to create, Lizabeth expresses some of her own internalized rage. However, as she looks...

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