Fragrant Conflict: Steinbeck "Chysanthemums"

analytical Essay
461 words
461 words

Within Steinbeck's story, "Chrysanthemums," the main character, Elisa Allen, is confronted with many instances of conflict. Steinbeck uses chrysanthemums to symbolize this conflict and Elisa's self-worth. By examining these points of conflict and the symbolism presented by the chrysanthemums, the meaning of the story can be better determined. The first time the reader encounters conflict occurs when Elisa is tending to her chrysanthemums in her garden. As she works, Elisa handles the flowers with care and compassion; she makes certain that nothing will come to harm them as though they were her own children; "No aphids were there, no sowbugs or snails or cutworms. Her terrier fingers destroyed such pests before they could get started." (273) When her husband comes to her, as she is working, he does not commend her for her work, but he scorns her, saying "I wish you'd work out in the orchard and raise some apples that big." (273) A high degree of "man against man" conflict is generated by the husband who fails to appreciate his wife and what she treasures. The presence of this conf...

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how steinbeck uses chrysanthemums to symbolize conflict and elisa's self-worth.
  • Analyzes how elisa handles her chrysanthemums with care and compassion. when her husband comes to her, he doesn't commend her for her work but scorns her.
  • Analyzes how elisa's encounter with the tinker, a nomadic man, causes her to resent her husband, but at the same time she recognizes her beauty.
  • Analyzes how the chrysanthemums are used symbolically when there is conflict between elisa and herself.
  • Narrates how elisa saw a dark speck and tried not to look as they passed, but her eyes refused to obey. "he might have thrown them off the road. that wouldn't have been much trouble.
  • Analyzes how elisa's self worth is crushed; the tinker had conned her for the pot; he was no different from her husband, failing to identify her womanly qualities.
  • Opines that women must be appreciated and nurtured in order to feel satisfied in a relationship is reinforced by the symbolism of the chrysanthemums and the conflict that elisa faces.
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