Describe the role of the tinker, including his function and symbolism, in "The Chysanthemums."

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kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The tinker is a man who repairs pots.  He "sweet-talks" Elisa and pretends he is interested in her flowers in order to get some business.  His role could be different for different readers, but he represents the outside world that Elisa has not explored.  She lives a very sheltered life on her farm that is isolated from others.  She finds the tinker's live fascinating and she inquires about his travels.  He also serves as an agent of an awakening of her emotions and feminine nature, as she finds someone who is interested in her flowers attractive (the tinker).  

Symbolism is present in the story through the flowers, which represent Elisa's inner beauty; however, the flowers also represent Elisa's delicate nature.  For example, she is crushed and cries "weakly, like an old woman" when the tinker dumps her flowers on the road.  Other symbols are the fence that surrounds her and her husband's property.  It represents how Elisa is isolated and fenced in from the rest of the world.  She is quite alone, even though she has her husband.  

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The Chrysanthemums

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