Themes And Symbolism In The Chrysanthemums By John Steinbeck

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In “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck the chrysanthemums are a recurring symbol which represent Elisa. As the story progresses, it is evident that Elisa is eager to explore more in life and experience what is beyond her farm in Salinas Valley; however, she feels trapped much like her chrysanthemums that are planted inside “the wire fence.” When Elisa gives away flowers to the peddler, she feels as if she is growing out of the constraints of society like a chrysanthemum blossoms when given attention and proper care. Unfortunately, her hopes start to wilt as she is driving to dinner with her husband and sees the flowers she gave away discarded on the side of the road, suggesting that she has not made progress in trying to escape from the norms of society. The theme in Steinbeck’s short story reveals that women in the 1930s were assumed to lack potential, and when they tried to break free of their constraints in society,…show more content…
Steinbeck portrays Elisa a lady whose “face was eager, mature, and handsome.” As Elisa works diligently inside the fence, it is evident that she takes pride in her chrysanthemums. The flowers are bright yellow, some of which “were ten inches across.” Elisa gives the chrysanthemums the attention that she wishes people demonstrated towards her, and she allows for her flowers to have potential to grow, a quality that people have not seen in her. By investing her “over-eager and over-powerful” energy into her flowers it is suggested that they are the the one thing for which she is truly passionate. Because she is a women in the 1930s, Elisa is not given opportunities to offer her “planter’s hands” to the rest of the farm, so she invests her time in her garden with her precious flowers. It is revealed that Elisa and her flowers have the capability to expand rather than stay restricted and isolated on her
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