Finding jobs for adults in the Great Depression has never been easy. Since not many of the people are employed, including Lizabeth's dad, the town is rundown. Because of this, Lizabeth, her brother Joey, and other neighborhood kids have a distaste for Mrs. Lottie's beautiful marigolds and decide to harass Mrs. Lottie by throwing rocks at the flowers. In this stage of her life, she is transitioning to an adult, so she feels bad about the flowers, but her child side finds it funny.
When Lizabeth goes to her bed that night she over hears her mother and father talking. Her dad begins to sob about how he should have a job and be able to provide for his family. Hearing her parents, Lizabeth feels uneasy and unsafe. After not being able to sleep she wakes her brother to destroy the marigolds. In the act, Mrs. Lottie comes out. Lizabeth is now able to see into people because she lost her innocence through the flowers.
Ever since the destroying of the marigold, Lizabeth has felt like an adult. As a tribute and to symbolize her adulthood's beginning, she grew marigolds at her own home once she moved out of her parents.