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Beneatha Younger

In: English and Literature

Submitted By sparris1
Words 842
Pages 4
American Intercontinental University
Unit 5 IP
Eng 206

The Chrysanthemums
Set in the 1930s, The Chrysanthemums provides the reader with several symbols that correlate with the time. Elisa Allen seems to be a typical obedient, docile wife who looks after her husband and their home. But as you read on, Steinbeck uses symbols that give deeper insight to Elisa, her marriage, and her feelings. It is realized that there is more to Elisa than initially thought. Elisa is sexually repressed and held captive by a male dominated society that thinks of women as nothing more than mothers and housekeepers.
The first significant symbol is the discussion of the weather. Steinbeck describes the winter fog, and how it sits over the valley like a lid on a pot (para 1). This can be seen as a metaphor to describe Elisa feeling trapped in her boring life. There is the mention of the sun shining around the area, on the fields nearby, but no sun in the valley where Elisa lives. The sun is generally associated with warmth and happiness. The fact that it is not present in Elisa’s environment symbolizes that she isn’t happy.
The most obvious of symbols is the chrysanthemums. The chrysanthemums are representation of Elisa’s being. She is isolated in the valley; there are no neighbors to speak of. Her husband, his ranch-hand and their dogs are the only people around. She takes pride in her chrysanthemums. This is obvious in the way she cares for them. She is meticulous in the way she trims each plant, killing any creature that may do them harm and prevent their growth. Even though Elisa gets immense pleasure from her flowers, they are still not enough to contain her nature. This is reflected when Steinbeck says “even her work with the scissors was over-eager, over-powerful.” (para 6)
After Henry, Elisa’s husband, goes off to round the cattle, a peddler approaches their home. The...

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