Symbolism In The Chrysanthemums

785 Words 4 Pages
“The Chrysanthemum” by John Steinbeck
In the short story "The chrysanthemums" by John Steinbeck. Elisa the protagonist of the story is a strong and proud woman who owns a garden. This garden fulfills the empty space she feeling at her own house. Plating chrysanthemums is a way to release Elisa’s frustration. This is the only place where she can be herself and portrays what many other women go through during marriage.
Flowers are usually associated with a woman because they represent beauty, delicacy, life and fragility. Elisa’s flowers represent the children she would never have with Henry. She takes care of the garden full of chrysanthemums with so much care, affection, and love. It is the same way she would take care of the kids she would
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Elisa is very delicate with the chrysanthemums and treats them with a constant enthusiasm and dedication. This symbolizes how long Elisa has been waiting for her husband to look at her and treat her the way she treats her flowers. She also hopes for her husband to notice her beauty because she feels unappreciated. Elisa 's femininity is being ignored and her husband 's failure to recognize Elisa 's needs. According to Cynthia Bily, an instructor of English at Adrian in the college in Adrian, Michigan. The flowers are interpreted as symbols of Elisa’s sexuality or childlessness. “Elisa lives a lonely life in terms of social life. The chrysanthemums are Elisa’s passion and planting flowers in the garden is the only place where she can be her self. When Henry complements her flowers, he is only looking at the size of it, not their beauty. Elisa is involved in the same situation one more time. When Henry complements the way she looks but does not look at her inner beauty,” (Bily). Elisa feels that Henry does not see her femininity and this is causing her to be like an enemy towards Henry. There is a visible resentment towards the man she …show more content…
Elisa’s opposition to the tinker uninteresting circumstances fades away once the tinker describes Elisa’s chrysanthemums as "quick puff of colored smoke"(Steinbeck). Elisa understands that the tinker is secretly admiring her. The chrysanthemums symbolize Elisa’s sexuality, and "she tore off the battered hat and shook out her dark pretty hair"(Steinbeck). When Elisa starts to have a conversation with the tinker, “she expresses her wish to be free and live the life he does,”(Higdon, David Leon). Tim Akers’s detailed article explains the unhappy marriage Elisa is living in. “When the traveling tinker appears in the story and speaks about his habits, Elisa thinks about how limited and [unsatisfied] her life is, and she longs for adventure” (Akers). After the tinker describes Elisa’s flowers, her femininity is back again. The tinker is a stimulus in Elisa’s life by giving him the chrysanthemums; this symbolizes a part of Elisa, which is her inner-self. Inner-self that Henry does not recognize. Once the tinker leaves, she begins to have hope for herself and marriage. She begins to see a new beginning for her marriage. Now she feels happier for a better life that is about to

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