Symbolim In The Chrysanrthemums Essay

756 words - 3 pages

A story of a relationship, John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums" shows a conflict within a woman to stay faithful. The story takes place on a farm in Salinas Valley, California during the early nineteen hundreds. Elisa and her husband Henry are planning to celebrate their recent sale of cattle. A traveling tool repairman appears out nowhere and takes Elisa for an emotional excursion. Though nothing physical happens Elisa is tempted by the opportunity. Elisa is tired of Henry's lack of interest in her, tired of her boring life. There are many objects and actions that symbolize Elisa's conflict within herself and her desire for an escape from her dull life.From the beginning of the story Elisa feels trapped by a relationship grown dull and unexciting. Henry just completed the sale of his cattle and tells Elisa the good news. Henry nears her in the garden and says "at it again"(pg. 247). His choice of words is representative of his disinterest in her. The word "again" also represents the day- in and day-out repetition of gardening. Henry goes on to tell Elisa he named his own price for the cattle. Elisa replies "good, good for you"(pg.247). The word "you" instead of using "us" signifies the emotional separation from Henry Elisa experiences, as well as exemplifies her disinterest in Henry. The fence represents the confinement of her relationship with Henry. The "wire fence that protected her flower garden"(pg.247), is also representative of a barrier protecting Elisa's heart, her sanctuary. Elisa feels trapped in an uneventful relationship, which is reflected by the lack of interest experienced.The chrysanthemums represent two things opposite in nature, Elisa's heart and passion being one, and her uneventful relationship the other. Elisa loves her chrysanthemums. When the peddler comes to Elisa's garden and tries to sell some repairs, she responds with little interest. When the peddler inquires about her garden she responds passionately. The peddler asks what kind of plants are the chrysanthemums. The moment he says this " the irritation and resistance melted from Elisa's face"(pg. 249). The sudden emotions experienced symbolize the peddler touching her heart and allows him to sell her a service. On the other hand, Henry says to Elisa " some of those chrysanthemums you had this year were ten...

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