How Does Steinbeck's Use Of Symbolism In The Chrysanthemums

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In literature, writers utilize symbolism as an artistic element in their writing. John Steinbeck’s short story “The Chrysanthemums” is about a woman named Elisa Allen who feels dissatisfied with her way of life. Elisa’s frustrations proceeds from her marriage and her sole escape from her frustrations is her garden where she grows chrysanthemums. Steinbeck uses chrysanthemums to symbolize Elisa’s struggles to identify herself and her challenging circumstances. Although children are not mentioned in Steinbeck’s short story, “The Chrysanthemum”, the flowers symbolize Elisa’s children or lack thereof. Elisa cares and attend to her chrysanthemum garden as she would for her own children. In order to keep her chrysanthemum garden safe, Elisa has a “wire fence that protected her flower garden from cattle and dogs and chickens” (Steinbeck, 750). Like a mother, Elisa protects her flowers by placing a wire fence around them to ensure that “no aphids were there, no sow bugs or snails or cutworms. Her terrier fingers destroyed such pests before they could get started” (Steinbeck, 750). It is evident through the text that Elisa safeguards her chrysanthemum garden to her utmost. As a good mother would, Elisa exterminated any pests that could cause harm to her …show more content…

Elisa’s ability to attend to her chrysanthemum garden as if they were her children symbolizes Elisa’s femininity. However, Elisa’s husband, Henry Allen, fails to acknowledge Elisa’s femininity, which strains their relationship. Upon seeing Elisa’s chrysanthemum garden, Henry states, “I wish you’d work out in the orchard and raise some apples that big” (Steinbeck, 750). Instead of praising Elisa’s beautiful chrysanthemums, Henry believes Elisa’s talents would be better suited for fieldwork. Although the chrysanthemums symbolize Elisa’s femininity, Henry blatantly disregards Elisa’s beauty and talents and therefore her

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