Symbolism In The Chrysanthemums Essay

978 Words4 Pages
Vanna Kazarian Mr. Martin Short Story Essay English 102 14, July 2011 Symbolism in John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums” According to our text, a symbol is described as a person, place or thing that suggests more than its literal meaning. In the short story “The Chrysanthemums”, John Steinbeck uses the flowers to symbolize his main characters thoughts, ideas, and feelings. “The Chrysanthemums” gives the reader acumen into the main character Elisa Allen. The story opens in the Salinas valley, which is described as “the high grey flannel fog of winter closed off Salinas’s valley from the rest of the world.” The valley is also described as a “closed pot”. This description can be used to symbolize Elisa’s lonely and isolated feelings. She is 35, married without children, and the “closed pot” can be interpreted as unhappiness. Elisa is not given much of a chance to be taken seriously. An example of this is during a conversation she has with her husband Henry about her flowers, where Henry tells her “I wish you would work out in the orchards and raise some apples”. Elisa perks up for a moment and makes a suggestion that she could accomplish working out in the orchards, only to have Henry shut her down by saying “well it sure works with the flowers”. I believe Steinbeck uses Henry’s rejection of her work in this conversation to illustrate the way society has rejected women as nothing more than mothers and housekeepers. Elisa’s garden is surrounded by a wire fence, which would suggest to the reader, Elisa’s isolation not only from her husband, but also from the rest of world. When the tinker enters the story, Elisa’s initial reaction towards him is non-engaging, almost irritated. The tinker being an opportunist sees the flowers as a way to make a sale. He begins to comment on her garden, Elisa then begins to soften up, as Steinbeck
Open Document