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  • Writer's pictureJoy Slaughter

12.1 The Goldenrod Motif


I introduced the tumor plotline in order to force the reader to ask questions and reconsider previous assumptions.

We all know why Megan left Todd. It was completely reasonable. Most readers tell me she should have left even earlier than she did.

But the reader also believed that Todd had control of his actions, that he was responsible for them. With the understanding of the tumor, that is called into question. At what point does someone control or not control their own actions? When do we hold them responsible? What do we do if that question cannot be answered? How do the answers to those questions impact our own choices?

Megan must now not only balance her relationships with both Todd and Nathan but is grappling with the concepts of free will, forgiveness, and justice.


She held a sprig of green, unopened goldenrod and slowly rolled it back and forth in her fingers. She picked it apart, carefully forcing the buds open, willing it to bloom out of its time.


The goldenrod motif has been used throughout the book as a symbol of Todd/Megan’s relationship. During the flashbacks, Todd has given her large bouquets of goldenrod that he picked himself, showing the effort and care he used to take of their relationship.

Now their relationship is back to a start of sorts, and she is reviewing the past and craving what never was. This section takes place in July when even the earliest goldenrod in Georgia is still in the early bud stage. There are no flowers, and all she ends up with is a torn, green mess.

Goldenrod appears once again in the climactic scene where Megan makes her final decision concerning Todd, and there, even though the flowers are barely starting to open, the vase breaks.


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