In "The Chysanthemums," what symbols express Elisa's personality? 

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The foremost symbol is her chrysanthemums.  Elisa has a real appreciation for aesthetic beauty.  She loves her flowers primarily because they are beautiful.  She appreciate the true beauty of them.  She takes pride in cultivating them in order to make them beautiful.  Her husband, however, only appreciates them because they are very large plants that are healthy. He fails to see or appreciate the aesthetic beauty of the flowers at all.  This is where Elisa and her husband have a real lack of synchronicity.  Henry appreciates things for the practicality; whereas, Elisa appreciates things for their beauty.  A prime example is when Elisa dresses up for their night out on the town. Henry makes the remark that she looks strong enough to "break a calf over your knee, happy enough to eat it like a watermelon" (eNotes).  This isn't exactly a compliment a woman would want to hear after she's spent a lot of time getting dressed up to impress her husband!


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