John Steinbeck was born in 1902 in Salinas, California, the third of four siblings. He studied at Stanford University where he majored in English between 1919 and 1925. Though he devoted six years to college, he never obtained his degree. While starting out writing fiction, Steinbeck worked as a lab assistant and a fruit picker to make ends meet (“The Chrysanthemums” 1).
In “The Chrysanthemums,” Elisa Allen is a strong, independent woman, who is unhappy and feels trapped in the current life that she lives. The first major symbol is the chrysanthemums that are Elisa Allen’s pride and joy. The chrysanthemums represent her children though she has none. She is tender and caring towards her chrysanthemums like a mother is to her children. Elisa cherishes the flowers like a mother protecting her son or daughter. She goes to the extent of surrounding her chrysanthemums with wire fencing (“Kassim” 1). During the day, it is pertinent for Elisa to keep the area clean. She also strives to keep the chrysanthemums clean and neat. “Her terrier fingers destroy such pests before they can get started,” this means she is cleaning the area around her precious “babies.” As a mother protecting her child against an unknown force, she fights off nature from harming her precious flowers (“Kassim” 1). Elisa treats these flowers as her pride and joy only for them to go unnoticed. She feels unappreciated by her husband Henry Allen, who feels she should use her a...
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...she is heading straight for what she has known which is loneliness. When on the way to dinner she sees the Chrysanthemums she so happily gave the tinker in hopes he would use them. Though they were neglected and thrown out as if they were useless the feeling Elisa feels within her life. There is a direct correlation between Elisa and the Chrysanthemums which are both held in pots. Elisa sees her hopes shattered and begins crying like an old woman a revelation within herself when she sees this is her life now and in the future.
Kassim, Elizabeth. "Symbolism in "The Chrysanthemums"" Symbolism in "The Chrysanthemums" Lone Star College, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "Pots in The Chrysanthemums." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.
"The Chrysanthemums." SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.
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