Chrysanthemums, A Review

1339 words - 5 pages

"The Chrysanthemums" introduces us to Elisa Allen, a woman who knows she has a gift for things, but can't make more use of it than to grow her chrysanthemums. She is trapped in the Salinas Valley, where winter's fog sits "like a lid...and [makes] the great valley a closed pot." Her human nature has made her complacent in ordinary life, but the short glimmers of hope offered by her flowers and a passing stranger reveal that there is more to Elisa than her garden. Her environment may be keeping her inside her small garden, but inside her heart there is a longing for more.

When we are first introduced to Elisa, she seems to look more like a man from afar than a woman who is gardening. She wears a man's hat, and her flower print dress is almost completely hidden by a large apron. She doesn't have a woman's dainty touch, but rather wears heavy leather gloves to protect her hands, much like a man. Her work with the chrysanthemums seems to be over powerful and overeager; the flowers seem too small for the force she has within her. As she is working, Elisa's husband approaches her small garden and comments on her gifts with flowers. Her reaction is a little smug, even defensive as she sharpens her eyes and insists she has planter's hands, and could even work in the apple orchard. She wants it to be clear that she can do more than grow some pretty flowers; she can work like any other man and make things grow. Here, we can see that Elisa keeps her distance from her own husband, as she keeps him out of her garden and behind the wire fence.

While she is working in her garden, a man approaches Elisa asking for directions and some work fixing pots or sharpening scissors. She is more than willing to help him, but becomes very defensive and irritated when he asks her if she has any need for his services. Suddenly, her face lights up as the stranger begins to ask her about the chrysanthemums. She is no longer hiding behind her man's hat, but rather tears it off to reveal her pretty hair and asks him to step inside the garden. When she gives the man a pot with a chrysanthemum inside to carry with him, she begins to tell him of her "planter's hands." Elisa becomes very excited, as she begins to think this man has something to offer her; he is a traveling man and can help her understand what freedom feels like. While she is speaking to him, she begins to get overly excited and almost grabs a hold of him. Unfortunately, he is not the man who can help her out, and draws the conversation away by mentioning dinner. As soon as he does so, Elisa becomes ashamed at her own excitement, the same excitement she showed when she was working with her flowers.

Elisa's glimmer of hope is gone now, and her character begins to reveal how she is trapped inside that valley, much like the valley is trapped from the rest of the world by the overwhelming fog. She becomes defensive against the stranger once more, and wants to prove to him that...

Find Another Essay On Chrysanthemums, A Review

Sub-plots in Hamlet Essay

1118 words - 4 pages Sub-plots in Hamlet   There are many things that critics say make Hamlet a "Great Work," one of which is the way that Shakespeare masterfully incorporates so many sub-plots into the story, and ties them all into the main plot of Hamlet’s revenge of his father’s murder. By the end of Act I, not only is the main plot identified, but many other sub-plots are introduced. Among the sub-plots are trust in the Ghost of King Hamlet, Fortinbras

Hamlet as Victim and Hero Essay

1301 words - 5 pages Hamlet as Victim and Hero      Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, a Shakespearean tragedy, tells the story of Prince Hamlet, who gained the knowledge of a terrible incident that his kingdom had suffered. Claudius, the king of Denmark and Hamlet's uncle, had killed his own brother, the king, who was also the father of Hamlet, and married his brother's widow. Hamlet suffered these traumas to a severe degree, and his only relief was to defeat his

Essay on Light and Dark in Antigone

1188 words - 5 pages . Throughout Antigone, King Creon is a symbol for nomos, while Antigone stands on the side of physis. To portray these ideas, light and dark images are used as a recurring motif to reinforce the theme. Light is used to show something good that is happening, whereas dark is utilized to show something of which the gods disapprove. Following with tradition, this play uses light to portray what is right in the eyes of the chorus and darkness to reproach the

charant Creon as the Main Character of Antigone

1231 words - 5 pages Creon as the Main Character of Antigone   Throughout the Greek play Antigone by Sophocles, there exists a dispute as to who should receive the designation of main character. Antigone, the daughter of the cursed King Oedipus, as well as Creon, stately king of Thebes, both appear as the key figures in this historic play. I believe that Creon, king of Thebes, should be considered the main character in this work of Greek theater. Three

Free Macbeth Essays: Sleep and Sleeplessness

525 words - 2 pages The Sleep and Sleeplessness Motif in Macbeth We have consciences that function to tell us the difference between right and wrong. If we have clear consciences, we usually possess the ability to sleep. But when our consciences are full of guilt, we experience a state of sleeplessness. In Macbeth, Shakespeare uses the sleep and sleeplessness motif to represent Macbeth's and Lady Macbeth's consciences and the effect Macbeth's conscience has

Life Outside of Life in Hawthorne’s Wakefield

898 words - 4 pages Life Outside of Life in Hawthorne’s Wakefield   Efficacy lies at the heart of human desires for immortality. Characters throughout literature and art are depicted as wanting to step aside and see what their world would be like without their individual contributions. The literary classic A Christmas Carol and the more recent, but ageless, film It’s Wonderful Life both use outside influences (three ghosts and Clarence the Angel

Essay on Identity in Song of Solomon

2172 words - 9 pages Searching for Identity in Song of Solomon         Abstract: Whether Africans really fly or just escape a monumental burden, perhaps only through death, is a decision Toni Morrison has apparently left to her readers. Never the less, no matter what you believe, within Song of Solomon, the suggestion is, that in order to "fly" you must go back to the beginning, back to your roots. You must learn the "art" from the old messages.   O

The Character of Oedipus in Oedipus and The Infernal Machine

904 words - 4 pages The Character of Oedipus in Oedipus and The Infernal Machine    The stories of Oedipus, as told through Seneca's Oedipus and Cocteau's The Infernal Machine, contain both similarites and differences. Both authors portray the character of Oedipus as being obstinate, ignorant, and inquisitive. Yet Seneca and Cocteau differ on their interpretation of the motives that propelled these characteristics of Oedipus. Seneca portrays Oedipus as a

Okonkwo's Tragic Flaws in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

3121 words - 12 pages characters, like Odysseus and Oedipus for instance, exemplify the excess of some positive character trait, like pride or honesty, which ironically leads to their personal misfortune. Throughout literary history, particularly within Grecian writings and apparently still evident in today's international pieces, there exists continuity within the human fear of failure. Chinua Achebe's novel, Things Fall Apart, details a remote native African society

Sophocles' Antigone - Antigone Must Challenge Creon

889 words - 4 pages Antigone Must Challenge Creon in Antigone   In his "Funeral Oration" Pericles, Athens's leader in their war with other city-states, rallies the patriotism of his people by reminding them of the things they value. He encourages a sense of duty to Athens even to the point of self-sacrifice. He glorifies the free and democratic Athenian way of life and extravagantly praises those willing to die for it. In Antigone, Creon, Thebes's leader in

The Role of Women in Homer’s Iliad

796 words - 3 pages The Role of Women in Homer’s Iliad Homer’s Iliad is undoubtedly focused on its male characters: Achilles, primarily, but also Hector and Agamemnon. Nevertheless, it seems that the most crucial characters in the epic are female. Homer uses the characters of Thetis, Andromache, and Helen as a basis for comparison to the male characters. Homer wants his audience to see and understand the folly of his male characters in choosing war over peace

Similar Essays

The Chrysanthemums Essay

1669 words - 7 pages portray in a “realistic style rich with symbolism,” the essence of life in the 1930’s (Price, Victoria). Works Cited Ditsky, John. "A Kind of Play: Dramatic Elements in Steinbeck's 'The Chrysanthemums'." Wascana Review 21.1 (Spring 1986): 62-72. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Ed. Anja Barnard and Anna Sheets-Nesbitt. Vol. 37. Detroit: Gale Group, 2000. Literature Resource Center. Web. 6 Dec. 2011. Millichap, Joseph R. "Biography of

Steinbeck's The Chrysanthemums Essay

1030 words - 4 pages John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums” hosts a warm yet somber account of a woman’s hunger to find fulfillment and vitality in her mundane life and stagnant marriage. Steinbeck presents the turmoil stirring inside the main character, Elisa Allen, by mirroring the lackluster qualities in the surrounding landscape. Taking place in the early-twentieth century, it is clear to the reader that the marital discontentment of a woman in this era was an

Coles Essay

2255 words - 9 pages flowers, specifically chrysanthemums, as a gift (www.china-window.com/china_business/china_business_tips/business-etiquette-in-chi, viewed on 20th April, 2008).Further more, we provide some suggestions in business practices in the third section. Relationship is very important in working in China. Good appearance could give others a good impression. Men should wear suits and ties to formal events: and revealing clothing for women sometimes is

Reality And Illusion In Shakespeare's Hamlet Reality, Appearance And Deception

896 words - 4 pages Reality and Illusion in Hamlet   Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, begins with the appearance of a ghost, an apparition, possibly a hallucination. Thus, from the beginning, Shakespeare presents the air of uncertainty, of the unnatural, which drives the action of the play and develops in the protagonist as a struggle to clarify what only seems to be absolute and what is actually reality. Hamlet's mind, therefore, becomes the central force of the