Steinbeck's Use Of Symbolism In "The Chrysanthemums"

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade April 2001

download word file, 4 pages 0.0

Downloaded 25 times

In his story "The Chrysanthemums", Steinbeck introduces us with a woman, named Elisa, who is trying to gain power in a man's world. Elisa Allen tries to define her role as a woman in a very close society. Her environment portrays the social depression, the garden shows her power and masculinity, and the chrysanthemums portray Elisa's existence and emptiness of her life. Elisa has trouble extending this power outside the fence that surrounds her garden. Finally, she learns but not accepts that she possesses a weak feminine power, not the masculine one she had tried to achieve. The symbols in setting and characters show us the scope and nature of this empty society. We can find those symbols almost everywhere in this story.

The fog, in the beginning of the story, can be interpreted as something that can inhibit movement and sight, "sat like a lid on the mountains" (1).

Moreover, the fog, like the close society, keeps things in step and restrained, like "a closed pot". (1) Not only the fog, but also the orchards, "plowed up to receive the rain"¦when it should come", symbolize the way our society create us to be empty inside, so it can fills us with whatever it feels is needed, regardless of our personal desires and needs. The fences, which surrounds Elisa's garden, her working environment, symbolize her life. She is isolated from the real world, from the man's world. Also, like the fences, the narrow paths and ordered rows of her garden, are the symbols of society which demands from her to stop thinking, follow the paths, and don't go outside of the boundaries. Although, unlike her husband and the society he represents, Elisa shows us that at least she is trying to create something more than society dictates. The...