The Woman-White Petals of Nature

A look at the use of chrysanthemums for symbolism by D.H. Lawrence, in his short story “Odor of Chrysanthemums,” and John Steinbeck, in his story “The Chrysanthemums”.

An examination of the power symbolism value of this strong scented and beautiful flower as represented by Lawrence and Steinbeck. The writer shows how the authors of these works conjure out of these simple and elegant flowers powerful images of the interrelationship of the human soul, nature, and the form of relationships between masculine and feminine energies.
“Within the scope of these stories, the chrysanthemums represent many things for the protagonists, from giving insight into the states of their souls to their relationships to nature, themselves, and towards the men in their lives. Perhaps the most obvious of these metaphors is found in Lawrence’s Odor of Chrysanthemums, where the progression of Elizabeth’s relationship to her husband is directly related in the text to her interaction with chrysanthemum flowers: “It was chrysanthemums when I married him, and chrysanthemums when you were born, and the first time they ever brought him home drunk, he’d got brown chrysanthemums in his buttonhole. (Lawrence) It is no coincidence that as her husband is brought in dead, chrysanthemums are spilled across the floor where he will be laid. In addition, her emotions towards her husband are deeply related to her feelings about the flowers. Her fading love for him is demonstrated by the way in which she refers to the flowers having a distasteful smell, and yet her continued need for him is evidenced in their desire to pluck a chrysanthemum and place it on her dress. Despite the fact that she does not care for the smell of chrysanthemums, she keeps them prominently about the house in cases, as she keeps her husband prominently in her soul though she is hurt by him and angry with him. She does not want to see him destroyed, nor will she let her son rip the fragile flowers apart.