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    Symbolism in John Steinbeck's "Chrysanthemums"

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    This week's literary club meeting discussion was supposed to be about John Steinbeck's "Chrysanthemums,� but it was cancelled due to bad weather.

    Choose 1 of the following statements as your thesis:
    How does Steinbeck use symbols in the story to convey meaning?
    Can the description of the peddlerbe a warning to the main character?
    Do you think that Elisa's situation is over or that a â??stormâ? could be brewing later?
    How can the title â??Chrysanthemumsâ? be use as a metaphor for the theme?
    Explain your reasoning/rationale for your interpretation.
    Argue why your interpretation is convincing.
    Support your position with solid arguments and cited evidence from the story itself.

    Guth, H. P., & Rico, G. (2003). Discovering literature: Stories, poems, plays. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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    Solution Preview

    Welcome back to BM! Please rate 5/5 for my ideas. 1800 words of notes and references are infused. I appreciate your business and am honored to assist you once again!

    In the first place, as you carefully choose one of the following statements as your sample thesis, I offer some model ideas to jump start your paper. Once you compose the paper, I encourage you to send to me as a new posting/Special Request for editing tips and advice.

    I specifically like the idea of demonstrating how Steinbeck cleverly utilizes prevalent and recurrent symbols in the story to convey meaning, theme, conflict, plot, character, and setting.

    As you explicate the title, for example, I feel that symbolism definitely resonates on many levels. Since flowers are impermanent pieces of beauty and are confined to such short lives due to weather and their
    overall fragile states, this sense of confinement also seems to permeate the marital situation in this piece. It also seems to character Elisa's status as a woman and wife. Elisa's desire to connect with others socially seems evident in her need to instruct the Tinker to take the flowers to another woman as she implores, " Why yes you can," Elisa cried. "I can put some in damp sand, and you can carry them right along with you. They'll take root in the pot if you keep them damp. And then she can transplant them."

    Like a flower, I feel Elisa Allen's life on the mundane ranch with inconsiderate husband, Henry, parallels the life of her temporary plants and flowers. As a woman, I feel the symbolism of "Chrysanthemums" and flowers in general, show Steinbeck's satiric statement about how women, like flowers, often serve as merely objects of beauty for men to look at and consume, not really to be valued for their intellect, spirits, creativity, and equity with men in this world.

    In the episode after her interaction with the visitor, Elisa finally transforms, gaining self esteem as "Henry came banging out of the door, shoving his tie inside his vest as he came. Elisa stiffened and her face grew tight. Henry stopped short and looked at her. "Why--why, Elisa. You look so nice!" Like a flower, she is merely admire for her outer state of beauty, not inner strength or attributes. Her reply shows her changes as they dialogue: "Nice? You think I look nice? What do you mean by 'nice'?" Henry blundered on. "I don't know. I mean you look different, strong and happy." ...

    Solution Summary

    Symbolism in John Steinbeck's "Chrysanthemums" is clearly dissected and validated with textual evidence.