Homework Help

What is theme and the meaning in the short story, "The Chrysanthemums" by...

user profile pic

jenny2684 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 7, 2008 at 1:37 AM via web

dislike 2 like

What is theme and the meaning in the short story, "The Chrysanthemums" by John Steinbeck?

I am having trouble distinguishing the two from each other.

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

chicagorilke23 | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted October 7, 2008 at 5:47 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

The theme is the general idea or message about human nature or life that a story can convey.

The meaning stems from how details in a story are used to express the overall theme/general idea of the story. 

Often works of literature include many themes and meanings. It adds to the richness of the text.

One theme of "The Chrysanthemums" is passion.

Elisa has a real passion for gardening. She takes great care and time in growing her Chrysanthemums.

When "the tinker" comes by, she feels that he understands her passion when he expresses interest in her gardening skills and her Chrysanthemums.

However, "the tinker" is exploiting her passion to his advantage. She eventually lets him fix a few pots, thus giving him business.

Later as she travles down the road with her husband, she sees the Chrysanthemums she gave "the tinker," tossed on the side of the road. 

While her passion for gardening is still intact, the idea of a connection with someone she felt understood her passion, is gone.


Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes