The Chrysanthemums Essay, Research Paper
Symbolism in The Chrysanthemums (The Chrysanthemums By John Steinbeck)
John Steinbeck gives a different type of symbolism in The Chrysanthemums. Many symbols appear, giving simple meanings and even foreshadowing the story to limited degree. Elisa seems to be content with her garden caring only for the welfare of her plants, with a special regard for the chrysanthemums. Behind her stood the neat white farm house with red geraniums close-banked around it as high as the windows. It was a little house with hard polished windows and a clean mud-mat on the front steps . Her whole world is her home, and preserving it in such sparkling fashion fills her otherwise empty life with pride. Undoubtedly the house stands for purity and innocence, while the chrysanthemums are the replacements for children. With the arrival of the tinker, she views him as an intrusion on her private world, until he, being knowledgeable in the ways of the world, discovers her love, (the chrysanthemums) and exploits her by feigning interest in them.
It (the tinker s wagon) was drawn by an old bay horse and little grey-and-white burro. Underneath the wagon, behind its hind wheels, a lean mangy mongrel dog walked sedately (the wagon rode on) crooked old wheels skirling and squeaking . Unsavory, untrustworthy and crooked is the obvious picture painted by the signals given here. Elisa is charmed by the trickery of the tinker. She gives him some of her precious chrysanthemums to take to a gardener who would appreciate their precious value. Feeling she acquired a kinship with the
tinker, she hires him for some minor repairs on pots and pans that really needed no mending. Of course, the tinker proves to be a liar and he abandons (discards) the adopted children (the chrysanthemums) by the roadside. As she travels to town with her husband, Elisa makes a discovery, Far ahead on the road Elisa saw a dark speck. She knew . When Elisa discovers her babies were tossed away as so much trash she realizes her misjudgment and inwardly collapses. She was crying weakly like an old woman .
The Chrysanthemums uses many symbols to reveal Elisa s naivete and purity. It also uses the same methods to expose the tinker s enterprise through dishonesty. Elisa never saw the truth until it broke her down, utterly.