It is obvious that in this story the chrysanthemum's assume a symbolic significance as they are a key image that runs throughout the story. We are told that Elizabeth Bates associates the smell of chrysanthemum's, although they are dishevelled, with the main stages of her relationship with her husband. The flowers are a sign of beauty in this otherwise dull and ugly mining village. However, she is very open to her children in saying that she has been a "fool" in her relations with her husband. It is only after her husband has died that she realises that the odour of these flowers is actually the smell of death. Her preoccupation has been to keep up the appearance of respectful appearances, such as when she ignores her husband's body to clean up the broken vase of chrysanthemums, and ignore concrete realities. It is only after she has finally cleaned her husband's body that she sees his masculine beauty and is able to accept the vast chasm that separated them.