John Steinbeck's short story "The Chrysanthemums" is about a proud, strong woman named Elisa Allen who feels frustrated with her present life. Her frustration stems from not having a child and from her husband's failure to admire her romantically as a woman. The only outlet for her frustration is her flower garden where she cultivates beautiful chrysanthemums. Steinbeck uses chrysanthemums as symbols of the inner-self of Elisa and of every woman.
First, 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 very protective of her flowers and places a wire fence around them; she makes sur...
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...age, but her realization that her life is not going to change is crystallized when she sees the flowers thrown on the road. It devastates her completely to have to settle for such an unfulfilling life.
Steinbeck, John. "The Chrysanthemums." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 6th ed. New York: Harper Collins, 1995. 239-47.
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