Symbolism in The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck
At first glance John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums' seems to be a story
of a woman whose niche is in the garden. Upon deeper inspection, the story
reveals strong symbolisms of children, vulnerability, and connection--being
the most important, of the main character. Elisa Allen is the main character who is
at her strongest and most proud in the garden and weakened when she becomes
vulnerable and loses her connection to the outer world. Elisa shows a new aura of
confidence when she makes this connection to a peddler, who also is the cause of
her realization of reality and her crying.
The chrysanthemums symbolize Elisa's "children." She tends her garden
and handles the chrysanthemums with love and care, just as she would handle
her own children. Elisa is protective of her flowers and places a fence around
them; she makes sure that "no aphids, no sowbugs or snails or cutworms" are t
here. "Her terrier fingers destroyed such pests before they could get started" (
221). These pests represent something that ...