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The Use of Symbols to Express a Theme

analytical Essay
927 words
927 words
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The Use of Symbols to Express a Theme John Steinbeck, in “The Chrysanthemums” expresses the theme through the use of symbols. The events in “The Chrysanthemums” take place in the Salinas Valley and focuses on Elisa Allen, her loneliness, and her attempt to communicate with others. In this story, Steinbeck uses various symbols to express the theme, which states that true communication must flow in both directions. The most important symbol in the story, the chrysanthemum, strongly expresses the theme as it represents the story as a whole. Additionally, the specific characteristics of the flower themselves symbolize different events in the story. In this story, Steinbeck relates the characteristics of the chrysanthemum to various events in the story. The chrysanthemum itself symbolizes Elisa. She lives on her husband’s farm in the Salinas Valley, which is “…closed off…from all the rest of the world”. In addition to the Salinas Valley being separated from the rest of the world, the only people on the farm are Elisa, her husband, Henry Allen, and a few workers. In the earlier part of the story, we see Elisa working in her garden and discover some of her characteristics that are later relevant. However, Steinbeck describes Elisa in an unorthodox manner. Instead of using female characteristics to describe her, he uses male characteristics. He describes her as having “a lean strong face… [and]…a man’s black hat pulled down over her eyes…”. These features given to Elisa usually relate to those of men, and Steinbeck does not stop there. He continues to describe the way she works, using generally masculine adjectives. He states that while she works, “her face is eager and mature and handsome [and] even her work with the scissors is ov... ... middle of paper ... ... to feel anger towards males in general, as she realizes that all men are the same. This section of the story emphasizes that true communication must flow in both directions. The chrysanthemums, the most important symbol in the entire book, strongly express the theme that for communication to remain true, it must flow in both directions. Throughout the story, we see the importance of the chrysanthemums. They symbolize Elisa and her desire to truly connect with someone. We also see, through symbolism, that if true and intimate communication is not reciprocated, the object doing all the giving will eventually destruct, literally and figuratively. Throughout “The Chrysanthemums”, Steinbeck uses various symbols to express a major theme, i.e., true communication, which leaves an everlasting impact on the reader and truly changes one's perception of that characteristic.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how steinbeck's "the chrysanthemums" uses symbols to express the theme of true communication in both directions.
  • Analyzes how steinbeck relates the characteristics of the chrysanthemum to various events in the story.
  • Analyzes how steinbeck relates the petals of the chrysanthemums to major occurrences in his story.
  • Analyzes how elisa gives and opens herself up as she wishes to have true and intimate communication with someone, but her overtures are not reciprocated.
  • Analyzes how steinbeck uses various symbols to express a major theme, i.e., true communication, which leaves an everlasting impact on the reader.
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