Symbolism Of The Tinker In Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums"

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade November 2001

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One thing that nearly everyone in the world yearns for is freedom. The housewife wants to be free of her husband, children, and daily chores. The teenager wants to be free from his or her parents, schoolwork, and responsibilities. People do not want to worry about where the next meal will come from, where the next house payment that will need to be paid will come from, or whether they will have a place to call their own. The ability to pick up and go is always in the back of our mind, but is an action most of us will never achieve. The tinker in Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums" symbolizes the freedom Elisa would like to have.

In "The Chrysanthemums" Elisa is a perfect picture of the before-mentioned housewife. She spends her days working hard to keep a tidy house for herself and her husband. The way she approaches her work is described as "over-eager" and "over-powerful."

Elisa is also described as a very strong, bold, and no-nonsense person. It seems like her only emotional motivation comes from her flower garden. The significance of her work in the garden is that every spring her outlook on life blooms with her flowers, and every fall it withers with her flowers' death. Elisa life is told in the growing cycle of her chrysanthemums.

The tinker, on the other hand, is a free spirit; he is not tied down anywhere. He has the freedom to move around from place to place and do what he chooses. Though he is a free soul, he earns his living by his hands, his craftsmanship, and his cunning abilities. The tinker is a bit of a con; he knows just what to say to get what he wants. For example, he talks to...



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