This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Exploring John Steinbeck's Short Story, The Chrysanthemums: Is The Grass Really Greener On The Other Side?

1051 words - 4 pages

John Steinbeck used his short story, The Chrysanthemums, as a visual illustration to answer the adage, “Is the grass “really” greener on the other side?“ During The Great Depression, the American dream had become a nightmare. What was once the land of opportunity was now the land of desperation. What was once the land of hope and optimism had become the land of despair. The American people were questioning all the maxims on which they had based their lives - democracy, capitalism, individualism. By the beginning of the next decade the United States had gone from a laissez-faire economy that oversaw its own conduct to an economy regulated by the federal government.
John Steinbeck, who witnessed all these drastic and dramatic changes, used this short story to illustrate what he felt was the questing mind-set of American men and women. He not only made people consider the rhetorical question, “Is the grass really any greener on the other side?“, but he sought to answer it. The reader senses that this woman, Elisa Allen, is a woman who is very unhappy with her life. She feels boxed in, limited, and unfulfilled. The only satisfaction, the only pride, and the only pleasure Elisa gets out of life is being in her garden with her "family" of chrysanthemums. She has fenced in the garden, to insure that it remains off limits to everyone, including her husband, the dogs, the cattle, and visitors. Elisa feels like a prisoner in a prison of her own making. While Henry Allen, her husband, embraces farm life in
their peaceful valley, Elisa Allen feels like a drudge, who is isolated, out of the loop, and wasting away from the tedium, hard work, and day to day monotony on the farm, away from the real and exciting world and people outside her valley. She bestows all her love, her attention, and her spare time on her chrysanthemums, as if they were her only allowed talent, gift, and accomplishment, since they are a childless couple.
Elisa’s garden is her private escape, where she is free to daydream, yearn, and wonder about life outside of her valley. Her little fenced in garden not only keeps the dogs and cattle out, but her husband does not trespass in it either. It is hers and hers alone. Elisa shows signs that she is miserable in her marriage and her life, by being curt and dismissive to her husband, uninterested in his buyers, and equally rude and dismissive towards the panhandler that rides up in an ancient, rickety, covered wagon. being pulled by an old horse and a mule.
He informs Elisa that he travels up and down the west coast year round looking for work to be able to make a living. He mends pots and pans, as well as sharpens knives and scissors for customers. He is a very big man who has learned to read people well. He is engaging, slippery, and a con-artist, who is...

Find Another Essay On Exploring John Steinbeck's Short Story, The Chrysanthemums: Is the Grass Really Greener on the Other Side?

John Steinbeck’s Short Story, The Chrysanthemums

1187 words - 5 pages Chrysanthemums She was wearing “a man’s black hat…clod-hopper shoes, heavy leather gloves” and “a big corduroy apron” doing her best to cover up her femininity. In John Steinbeck’s short story, “The Chrysanthemums”, we are introduced to Elisa Allen. Elisa is living during a period after the Great Depression when women’s rights issues were becoming a topic of public concern. Steinbeck uses the character Elisa Allen to portray the

Essay on Elisa's Unfulfilled Desire in John Steinbeck's The Chrysanthemums

1251 words - 5 pages Elisa's Unfulfilled Desire in Chrysanthemums The "Chrysanthemums" was written by John Steinbeck and introduced in 1937. In this story it is evident that Elisa has suppressed sexual desires that are awakened. At the ripe age of thirty-five, Elisa is at her sexual peak, but because of being betrayed by men, she is unable to fulfill those desires. Elisa Allen is a strong woman. She is strong because of her manly qualities. Her masculinity

Symbolism in John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums"

573 words - 2 pages Symbolism in John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums" In "The Chrysanthemums" John Steinbeck develops a theme of limitations. The story is essentially a man in the mirror story where the rigid Elisa sees herself for the first time as trapped. Although Elisa has recognized her life as limited and confining, she sadly accepts her life as is and does nothing to rectify her situation. In John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums" symbolism of the fence

John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums"- Elisa Allen's weaknesses

593 words - 2 pages In the short story "The Chrysanthemums", Steinbeck travels through a day in the life of the thirty five year old Elisa Allen, a modern house wife of the 1930's. Although, once we begin to read about Elisa, we come to find that she is far from the average house wife. Deep down, she has an inexpressible desire to be apart of the world outside of her garden, in the man's world. Through the detailed descriptions of John Steinbeck, Elisa is given

The Unfulfilled Elisa in John Steinbeck's The Chrysanthemums

1523 words - 6 pages The Unfulfilled Elisa in John Steinbeck's The Chrysanthemums “The Chrysanthemums” is a short story in The Long Valley, a collection of short stories by John Steinbeck. This story dramatizes the efforts made by a housewife, Elisa Allen, to compensate for the disappointments which she has encountered in her life. Steinbeck makes it clear that Elisa yearns for something more in her life then the everyday routines of farm life. While Elisa is

Green economics: The other side of the grass

1431 words - 6 pages Green economics: The other side of the grass President Barrack Obama in his first speech to the Congress of the United States presented the idea of a green economic solution for some of the troubles facing the United States economy. The potential and the flaws of the idea of green economics have since entered the debate of citizen and politician alike (Goldenberg). Globally, the idea of a green market has begun to attract more attention than

Analysis of Elisa's character in the short story "The Chrysanthemums" by John Steinbeck

705 words - 3 pages feelings and loneliness. Elisa turns to cherish and nurtures the chrysanthemums, a symbol of her true female beauty, as a result of her strained marriage. And to some extent she appears not to be in touch with her own sexuality, and is not able to unearth the deep source of her dissatisfaction.Elisa instinctively lets go of her masculine side, and allows her covered emotions to emerge. The arrival of the handyman in the story plays the role of the

An essay on one of the short stories in the 'River Side Reader' it is a responce to the short story 'Everyday Use' by Alice Walker

929 words - 4 pages princess. The names are therefore a mixture of names from more than one ethnic group and maybe that is the point. Dee has names representing the whole East African region. Or more likely, she is confused and has only superficial knowledge of Africa and all it stands for.This idea is strengthened when you look at the other African phrase Dee Wangero uses in the short story. She greets her mother: Wa-su-zo-Tean-o. This is a Luganda phrase showing how the

"John Mackasey" This Is A Short Paper On John Mackasey, An Irish Catholic And Other Irish Immigrants Living In Canada During The Late 1800s

451 words - 2 pages John Mackasey (1840-1919), an Irish Catholic, lived in Halifax during a difficult time. Irish Catholics were placed in the lowest-paid, least-skilled, and most dangerous and insecure employment. They found many social and economic doors closed to them. During this time, work was not easy to find and one could soon find advertisements for jobs which specified : "No Irish Need Apply", later shortened to NINA.# Irish-Americans generally began at

What is the theme of John Cheever's short story, "The Swimmer"?

858 words - 3 pages circumstances."The Swimmer", a complex short story constructed on the backdrop of the vices typically associated with the era, is a representation of the power the human mind possesses. It's possible to be so deeply in defiance of a situation that it can be buried beneath the reasonable, coherent, and rational thinking of an individual. Ned's downfall was in his blatant disregard of the events unfolding around him, and his downward spiral was

The Grass is Always Greener

633 words - 3 pages , Ethan Frome. Wharton uses Ethan’s female cohabitants and their contrasting and changing physical appearances to point to the theme that hasty decisions lead to regret. Ethan’s life exemplifies the well-known idiom stating that “the grass is always greener on the other side.” Zeena, his wife whom he married hastily due to his fear of loneliness, is the proverbial “side of the fence” from which he views what could have been. At a mere thirty-five

Similar Essays

John Steinbeck's “The Chrysanthemums” Essay

1276 words - 5 pages John Steinbeck's “The Chrysanthemums” John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums" shows the true feelings of the main character, Elisa Allen, through the use of setting and her interactions with other characters in the story. By way of vivid descriptions, Elisa's feelings of dissatisfaction over the lack of excitement in her life are portrayed. Her role as a mere housewife and then the subsequent change to feelings of a self-assured woman are

John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums" Essay

600 words - 2 pages Symbolism in John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums"In the short story, "The Chrysanthemums," Steinbeck effectively uses symbols to help the reader understand the story's plot and obtain insight into characters' thoughts and feelings, primarily Elisa. As the story's main character, Elisa is a lonely thirty-five-year-old woman, who serves as the channel in which most of these symbols are used.Elisa feels neglected by her husband, Henry, who is

John Steinbeck's The Chrysanthemums Essay

611 words - 2 pages “The Chrysanthemums'; and Its Symbolism      John Steinbeck uses symbolism to give alternate meanings to his short story “Chrysanthemums.'; A symbol is a device used to suggest more than its literary meaning. He uses these symbols to look further into the characters and their situations. The character Elisa has a garden, which is more than just a garden, and the chrysanthemums that she tends are

Essay On The Chrysanthemums By John Steinbeck's

811 words - 3 pages If we look back to the beginning of the century, it is clear that marriages were often arranged or it was the man who chose his bride. As a result, men did not feel genuine love towards their wives and asked them to take care of the cooking and look after the children if they had any. John Steinbeck's short story "The Chrysanthemums" illustrates this through his character, Elisa Allen, a proud, strong woman who feels frustrated with her present