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Chrysanthemums: A Symbol of Femininity and Womanhood

"The Chrysanthemums" and Its Symbolism

John Steinbeck uses symbolism to give alternate meanings to his short story "Chrysanthemums." A symbol is a device used to suggest more than its literary meaning. He uses these symbols to look further into the characters and their situations. The character Elisa has a garden, which is more than just a garden, and the chrysanthemums that she tends are more than just flowers. There are actions that she performs in the story, which also have other meanings.

Elisa is a country housewife. She is semi-distant from her husband and greatly distant from the world around her. She is a homebody, meaning that she rarely leaves the boundaries of her home and she has a lot of time and energy being built up. She uses some of this energy to clean up her house, but most of it is spent on her flower garden. Her garden is a place of solitude. It's her own little world where she can let herself go and be the person that she wants to be. Her feminine side is brought out in her garden, the nurturer for the chrysanthemums, a mother almost to them. When the tinkerer comes to her home and into her garden he shows interest in her chrysanthemums. She takes this also as an interest in her as well. The garden in other words is a symbol for her femininity and womanhood.

The chrysanthemums are also seen as a symbol for her heart. Her existence seemed drab, dull and inevitable. She wanted to travel the world but she knew that she should not leave her husband. She felt that her husband wasn't taken enough care of her personally so she took care of herself in the form of her chrysanthemums. She meticulously trimmed them and transplanted them with intense care. The type of care that she felt was missing form her marriage. Later on in the story when she gives the

"The Chrysanthemums" and Its Symbolism

tinkerer a couple of her seedlings, she is giving him a piece of herself to take with him. It...

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Chrysanthemums: A Symbol of Femininity and Womanhood. (1969, December 31). In DirectEssays.com. Retrieved 11:40, October 31, 2014, from http://www.directessays.com/viewpaper/16157.html