Symbolism in Steinbecks Chrysanthemums

Topics: John Steinbeck, Symbol, The Grapes of Wrath Pages: 4 (1191 words) Published: November 14, 2011
Symbolism in John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums”
In “The Chrysanthemus” Steinbeck’s ability to reveal major insights about both the central characters as well as humanity in general. Through heavy yet artful symbolism, an author can make something seemingly confusing or insignificant; manifest itself into a hugely relevant detail. “Chrysanthemums” is one of those tales. Utilizing a variety if symbols, such as Elisa`s clothing, images of inside versus outside, fights and flowers carefully placed throughout he short story, Steinbeck highlight the emotional separation of the main couples, Elisa and Henry until it appears completely empty of all hope for any recovery.

The opening lines of “The Chrysanthemums” serve to underscore the emotional barriers which surround Elisa, as well as to highlight her sense of alienation from “all the rest of the world” (Steinbeck 192). Through the “high gray flannel fog of winter.” Steinbeck utilizes complicated symbolism to characterize Elisa (192). Not only does the fog obscure her vision to accurately interpret the actions and persons around her, but it also conveys her impression of severe isolation. Elsewhere there is “pale cold sunshine” (192) or perhaps this is an inclination of how Elisa interprets the areas beyond her home.

Throughout the story, Elisa shows preference towards the outdoors. She gardens flowers, appears to like the idea of living on the road. In contrast to this, unlivable qualities of her “hard swept” house instantly bring the reader closer to the disconnect of Steinbeck’s tale. The inside and outside areas separate Elisa’s relationship with Henry. As Elisa and Henry parrot their news back and forth, they consistently repeat meaningless words such as good and nice this sort of diction allows them to hide truer emotions their real inclination toward a fight, either viewed as a show or demonstrated amongst them.

As the reader is introduced...
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