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Symbolism in The Crysanthemums

Symbolism in "The Chrysanthemums" At first glance John Steinback's "The Chrysanthemums' seems to be a story of a woman whose niche is in the garden. Upon deeper inspection, the story reveals strong symbolisms of children, vulnerability, and connection--being the most important, of the main character. Elisa Allen is the main character who is at her strongest and most proud in the garden and weakened when she becomes vulnerable and loses her connection to the outer world. Elisa shows a new aura of confidence when she makes this connection to a peddler, who also is the cause of her realization of reality and her crying.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 protective of her flowers and places a fence around them; she makes sure that "no aphids, no sowbugs or snails or cutworms" are there. "Her terrier fingers destroyed such pests before they could get started" (221). These pests represent something that harms the flowers, and she removes them before they can harm her "children." The chrysanthemums are symbolic of her children, and she is very proud of them. She is happy and pleased by her ability to nurture the chrysanthemums as she would her children. Elisa's vulnerability is shown through her experience with the peddler shows an interest in the chrysanthemums when he describes them as a "quick puff of colored smoke" (223). By admiring the chrysanthemums, he figuratively admires Elisa Allen. The peddler gives Elisa a connection that she can't do with anyone else. By giving him the pot to put the chrysanthemum seedlings in, she gives him the symbol of her inner-self. She begins to feel hope as the peddler leaves. She dresses up nice and prepares for her night out with her husband. This preparation process symbolizes that she is preparing for a change in her life. Her washing and dressing is sym...

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