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The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck

Over the past few months in class we have learned about many aspects of literature. Some examples of them are characterization, setting, style, tone, allegory, theme, and symbolism. I chose to write this essay about the symbolism aspect that is featured in so many great works of literature. Two such stories that we have read in which symbolism is demonstrated is in The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck, and The Worker in Sandalwood by Majorie Pickthall. In The Chrysanthemums, Steinbeck tells a story of a married couple living on a farm.

The husband, Henry Allen, works most of the day while his wife, Elisa Allen, spends most of her time tending to her garden. The couple have no children. However, in Elisa’s garden she grows Chrysanthemums, which she cares for as if they were her children. During the story a stranger wanders on to the farm looking for work. He mends and repairs old pots, scissors and other items. At first, Elisa tells him that she has no work for him, but the stranger begins to tell her of a woman he had come across that has a beautiful garden but no Chrysanthemums.

Elisa becomes so excited at the chance to give the man some of her flowers to give to her, that she even figures to let him do a little work. She gives him some items to fix along with some Chrysanthemums to deliver. Later that day on their way to dinner the Allens come across the flowers tossed on the side of the road. Elisa was heart-broken over seeing something she loved so much just thrown aside like garbage. To her, the Chrysanthemums symbolized her children.

In The Worker in Sandalwood Pickthall tells a story of a man named Hyacinthe. He is asked to work all night by his boss, Pierre L’Oreillard, to finish building a cabinet. But this isn’t just any night, this is Christmas Eve. During the night, a stranger comes to Hyacinthe’s door and asks to come in. He offers to help Hyacinthe with his work while he gets some rest. While Hyacinthe rests the stranger completes all of the work and with only a smile, leaves. There are a few things that he also did that made the reader and Hyacinthe think.

He said he was bred a carpenter and also when he first arrived he had an injured sparrow with him that magically was healed when the sun rose. This stranger symbolized Jesus sent to help a man in need. Hyacinthe had asked the Lord for help and got what he asked for. These are just two examples of symbolism that are in works of literature. Aspects of fiction can be found in almost every work of literature. The aspects in the stories are what piece the story together.

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