The chrysanthemums Essay

This essay has a total of 839 words and 4 pages.

the chrysanthemums





A good writer has many tools at hand that help them develop good story lines. There are
literary techniques such as voice, point of view, character, theme, and symbolism. One
very interesting technique is that of symbolism. With symbolism the author is able to
write a story in which many of the actions around the main character seem to enhance the
way the character develops. The use of symbolism to develop the characters is easy to see
in the short story "the chrysanthemums" by John Steinback. In this story Steinback writes
of a woman who lives on a farm; but the woman feels trapped, and wishes that she could
free herself. The author uses both the time of year and the location to develop a setting
that compliments the feelings of the main character. The story starts off saying, "The
high Gray-flannel fog of winter closed off the Salinas Valley from the sky and from the
rest of the world."(Steinback 267)from the first sentence the author is developing a
setting that compliments the character. At this point in time of the story nothing is
known about the Elisa Allen, but this quote about how the Salinas valley is closed off
from the world is a symbol of the struggle that Elisa is soon to face. The second sentence
of this story reinforces that the this place is isolated by saying, "On every side it sat
like a lid on the mountains and made the great valley a closed pot. "(Steinback 267) The
symbol of a closed pot works in conjunction with the first sentence to give an idea to the
extent of how hard it would be to escape the pressure of the isolation that Elisa is
feeling. The symbol of living on a farm helps Steinback show Elisa's isolation. Location
is not the only symbol that Stinback uses in this story to symbolize Elisa Allen's
character. Setback uses time in this story to compliment the location. In the second
paragraph the author develops the character even more by writing, "it was a time of quiet
and waiting. The air was cold and tender. A light wind blew up from the southwest so that
the farmers were mildly hopeful of a good rain before long; but fog and rain do not go
together."(Steinback 267) From this line much may be derived about Elisa Smith's
character. The quiet waiting symbolizes how Elisa is silently waiting for something to
happen. Elisa can not say much about her current situation, she has to calmly weight for
something to happen. This can be seen when her husband jokes about her going to the fights
with her. At the time she says nothing, because it would be absurd for her to go with him.
However, after she grows up at the end of the story she expresses her interest to go with
him. The symbol of the possibly of rain shows how Elisa anticipates that something
interesting in her life may happen, but deep down she knows that there is a very low
probability that anything would actually happen. Elisa's bath is another good symbol that
Steinback uses to develop Elisa's character. When she, "scrubbed herself with a little
block of pumice. . . until her skin was scratched and red."(Steinback 273) she was
scrubbing away the skin that bound her into her conventional role. After this bath she had
the courage to ask henry if they could have wine at the dinner tonight, and that they may
possibly go to the fights together. After her bath she realized how strong she was by
saying, " [I am strong,] she boasted. [I never knew how strong.]"(Steinback 273) After
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