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The Use of Symbols in John Steinbeck’s The Chrysanthemums Essay

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In John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums”, he uses the chrysanthemums, fence, and garden to symbolize Elisa’s thoughts and feelings throughout his story. He uses these symbols to show love, neglect, loneliness, protection, and passion for his characters.
Steinbeck introduces Elisa, the main character, as a masculine young woman with a “face lean and strong” (Steinbeck 209) and “her figure looked blocked and heavy in her gardening costume, a man’s black hat...clod-hopper shoes.” (Steinbeck 209) He lets the chrysanthemums symbolize Elisa’s true beauty. She feels that her husband does not see her as beautiful woman. All he can see is a house wife and a gardener. He shows little interest in the chrysanthemums. When Henry says, “You’ve got gift with things. I wish you’d work out in the orchard and raise some apples that big” (Steinbeck 210) it is almost like he is making a joke. He knows that he would never let her work outside of the garden. And because of Henry’s neglect she turns to her chrysanthemums. She nourishes them as a mother would her children. Elisa makes sure that “no sowb...


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