Hope's out campaigning for G.T. one day when she's hassled by the slimy Carbinger brothers. She's still shaking from the experience when a little old lady hands her a beautiful orange daylily. The elderly woman, Mavis Pettibone, tells Hope to add water and sunshine to the daylily and to "remember the power of the light" no matter what happens with G.T.'s campaign. By the time Hope gets home, the flower looks closed and completely dead.
What happens with G.T.'s campaign is that his name gets "officially" added to the ballot that same evening, two minutes before the 5:00 deadline. Everyone is thrilled, including the daylily, which Hope finds "fully opened—soaking up the goodness of the light" (84) the next morning.
The "goodness of the light" shines again when G.T. finds out his cancer is in remission. Hope tells us that the man's face glowed with "[...] the kind of light that could open a daylily in the middle of a long, cold night" (155).
Whether the light of the daylily represents goodness, re-birth, hope, or all of the above, one thing's clear: Mrs. Pettibone certainly knows how to choose her flowers.
Hope Yancey is Like a Daylily
Enough with the similes...let's go for a metaphor here. Hope Yancey is a daylily. First of all, the colorful flowers are low-maintenance; they can survive with very little care and easily adapt to most types of soil (source). Sounds like our girl, minus the dirt. Secondly, the flowers of the daylily plant only bloom for a day or two (that's why it's called the daylily and not the weeklily or the monthlily) but there are tons of buds so the plants bloom and bloom. Hmmm...sounds like our girl again. Also sounds like our girl's time as G.T.'s daughter—short-lived, but long-lasting.
The Lore of the Lily
But wait...there's more to the lore of the lily. Some trace its origins back to Greek mythology. Rumor had it that Zeus cheated on Hera (his wife) with a mortal woman (not his wife) who gave birth to a bouncing baby boy named Hercules (no superpowers for this half-mortal). Zeus wanted the kid to have superpowers so he brought him to Hera to nurse on some goddess milk while the mortal woman was asleep. Hera woke up and threw the nursing baby halfway across the room while a few drops of her milk fell to earth and became the first lilies.
Why the lesson on Greek mythology rumors? Hera tosses the baby aside ("not my kid") and ends up creating a beautiful, hardy flower that blossoms continuously and adapts to most environments without much care. We'll let you take it from there.