Characters And Symbolism In The Chrysanthemums, By John Steinbeck

1016 Words5 Pages
In John Steinbeck 's “The Chrysanthemums” an American short story, is presumed to be his most known work. A lonely woman in a garden is visited by a handsome drifter. She explains her flowers as an allegory to her life. Steinbeck’s uses strong characters, symbolism of the Chrysanthemums and the blooming life of women, her sexual desires, in a man’s withering power during the Great depression to produce a central idea. The central idea revolves around freedom to escape from the norm.
The protagonist and dynamic character is Elisa Allen. “She was thirty-five. Her face was lean and strong and her eyes were as clear as water” (Steinbeck 1061).She’s wearing a “figured print dress “almost completely covered by a big corduroy apron with four big
…show more content…
He understands that agriculture is the prominent part of daily life in this region. Set in the fog of winter closed off the Salinas valley” (Steinbeck1061). The “neat white farm house with red geraniums close-banked around it as high as the windows.”(1061) It was a hard-swept looking little house” (1062) the tinker 's home is the highway, Elisa is confined to her garden and house. “The Chrysanthemums" was written in 1937, towards the end of the Great Depression, and women 's right to vote had just came in…show more content…
“The space seems gendered” (Kurdish). The wire fence could symbolize Elisa’s sexual desires. Elisa stood in front of her wire fence watching the slow progress of the caravan” The calloused hands he rested on the wire fence. (Steinbeck 1064). “He drew a big finger down the chicken wire and made it sing” (Steinbeck 1064). The chrysanthemums symbolize Elisa herself, like the flower she is well taken care of and beautiful. At the end her emotions are like the chrysanthemums, thrown on the side of the road. “That the story begins and ends with her and the flowers tells us they are gauges, in a sense, of her feelings” (Kordich).The use of diction to describe the sexual tension between Elisa and the tinker. Hot and sharp and-lovely” (Steinbeck 1065). Elisa came through the gate to watch him while he pounded out the dents in the kettles” (Steinbeck 1066). “Both the valley and the pots suggest female sex, whereas the knives and scissors suggest the male” (Werlock).
The tone in The Chrysanthemums, by John Steinbeck is a sense of envy toward men. “In her tone and on her face was a little smugness” (Steinbeck 1062). I wish women could do such things” (Steinbeck 1066). She told the tinker all about how to take care of the flower and he just threw it out. Also a very wistful feeling of the story. Elisa longs for a different life or more exciting one. She says to the tinker about how he travels, “that seems like a nice kind of way to live”
Get Access