Preface Summary

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Last Updated on March 20, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 142

The preface describes a typical family: mother and father, son and daughter (named Dick and Jane), cat and dog. There is a simplistic depiction of the family’s activities, including Jane playing and the dog barking. The story is repeated, with the grammar and sentence structure devolving into a run-on sentence by the third repetition. 

In fall 1941, Pecola is pregnant with her own father’s child, an unnatural occurrence that seems to have caused the local marigolds to fail to bloom. The narrator and her sister think they can remedy the ills of the community if they can find a way to grow marigolds, but their efforts are unsuccessful. They feel guilty, but their guilt creates nothing productive. Pecola’s father has since died, and these girls are no longer innocent. They seek to understand why and how the events of 1941 occurred.

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