Lizabeth, Joey, and the other neighborhood kids throw stones at Miss Lottie's marigolds. They do this because their child emotions tell them that annoying Miss Lottie is fun. They know it is wrong and that they are hurting Miss Lottie but, they don't care and continue to destroy the flowers.
In the middle of the night, Lizabeth overhears her parents talking about how hard it is to have a place to live and a stable job. During this time, Lizabeth realizes what it is like to be an adult, the responsibility and maturity she has to achieve soon. After the conversation, she is left sad and confused
She then sneaks out to Miss Lottie's house, Lizabeth completely rips out all the marigolds in a final act of childhood. After, she realizes what she has done and feels guilty about it. She sees how much the marigolds meant to Miss Lottie and that they were the last thing she had. As she grows up, she takes this lesson with her and later plants her own marigolds.