John Steinbeck's Use of Symbolism in His Book 'The Chrysanthemums'

611 Words Jan 11th, 2018 2 Pages
The title of the book is a reference to the symbols and plot of the story, a Chrysanthemum being a symbolic flower for the protagonist, Elisa Allen. The story is set during the Great Depression, and therefore marriage by arrangement was common in agricultural areas, as finding food and shelter were more important than childhood ambitions, as Elisa learned the hard way. Symbols are used to convey a particular meaning constantly in the Chrysanthemums, the flowers within the story reflect the emotions involved in the events that take place in the story. Elisa begins the story in a boring and depressing marriage, which has lead her mind to wander about the world outside of her property. When her husband confronts her and suggests that she concentrate on the apple orchards for profit rather than her beloved Chrysanthemums, which are simply for show, she breaks down and realizes how deeply depressed she has become. The flowers have become a symbol of her feelings, as the beautiful but neglected girl who resents not being appreciated by her own husband. Another symbol in the story is her garden itself, as Elisa's cage. John Steinbeck was writing during the Great Depression, and the number of unemployed around the country meant that crime had risen dramatically, limiting the movement of housewives like Elisa. It is at this point that a traveling…
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