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

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 women’s struggle for equality. She is a woman deprived of social, personal and sexual fulfillment in a male-dominated world. Elisa struggles to find satisfaction in her womanhood and a desire to escape from her isolated world.

“She was thirty-five. Her face was eager and mature and handsome…her figure looked blocked and heavy…” Elisa seems to be very masculine in appearance, and envious of the male authority. She has a very strong character and wishes to be independent and free herself. She struggles with the idea of women being inferior to men and feels that she must live up to what society believes a woman should be, passive. Elisa is unhappy and bored with the traditional roles she must play being a woman and frequently tries to behave as a man would. In several points in the story, she seems to take on a masculine role. For instance, when the man looking for work came by the house, she took authority and told him sternly “I tell you I have nothing like that for you to do”, a typical male response. She shows her strong qualities as she refuses him work making her feel like she has authority over him. Elisa tries so hard to be equal to her husband; she works so hard in her garden as he works on the farm. He compliments her garden, “you’ve got a strong new crop coming”, making her feel that she is equal to him in her eyes. However he returns with “I wish you’d work out in the orchard and raise some apples that big”, completely neglecting her prize possession, her chrysanthemums, and unknowingly disrespecting her. She fights for his attention and acceptance throughout the story. This makes her turn weaker and weaker until the point where she does not care anymore and accepts the fact that she is a woman and consequently, inferior.

“On every side it sat like a lid on the mountains and made the great valley a closed pot.” Steinbeck is showing how isolated Elisa feels and how hard it would be to escape the “pressure of the closed pot”. In many parts of the story she seems very frustrated and trapped with her life and has a need to let go. She envies the freedom of the visitor, “you sleep right in the wagon…it must be nice”. However, he reminds her of her sexuality by saying “it ain’t the right kind of a life for a woman”. Elisa becomes very defensive by this remark, the feeling of hopelessness comes over her and she realizes that she is indeed inferior to men.

Elisa tends her garden with care and finds happiness and strength in it. Figuratively speaking, it takes the place...

Find Another Essay On John Steinbeck’s Short Story, The Chrysanthemums

Short story summary of "The A&P" by John Updike

651 words - 3 pages "The A&P"In the short story, " The A&P," by John Updike, the author seeks to make his point using an unlikely setting and scenario. Using a supermarket as a metaphor for a society, Updike illustrates how breaking the norms of society evokes fear and brings about intolerance in people. When a society is accustomed to only one way of doing things it will not be accept anything different. Members of a society fear change, and only behavior

Critical analysis of the short story Breakfast by John Steinbeck

829 words - 4 pages John Steinbeck has illustrated a story of gratification, bliss and thankfulness to God for His blessings. He has given an account of his individual experience to prove that material goods are not the reason for bringing happiness in our lives. It is our approach towards life and God that guarantees it. The background of the story is that of the Great depression of the 1930’s in which America and in fact the entire world witnessed the worst and

John B. Updike's Short Story "Trust Me"

1173 words - 5 pages John B. Updike is a novelist, poet, short story author, playwright, children’s book author, literary critic, art critic, and essayist. Updike is one of the world’s most versatile, serious, and prolific writers. Though his writing style and subjects vary greatly, he is committed to addressing the moral, social, and cultural conditions of his generation. Updike was born on March 18, 1932 and raised in a small town by the name of Shillington

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

Analysis of John Updike's Short Story, A & P

946 words - 4 pages In the short story,  “A & P” by John Updike, Sammy is an employee at the local A & P supermarket in a small town in New England.  During his time spent as a clerk in the checkout line, he builds a resentment for the customers and management at the store.  Sammy is very displeased with his job and appears to be looking for an excuse to leave.  Sammy is nineteen years old and is intrigued about the opposite sex.   One day at work, Sammy

Maturity and Choices in A & P, a short story by John Updik

774 words - 4 pages Many times in our lives, we wish we were independent and we believe we can stand up for ourselves, especially during our adolescence. In “A &P”, a short story by John Updike, the protagonist, Sammy, decides to stand up for himself and go against the customary life style of his town. By doing this such act, he reveals the themes of the story, which include maturity and choices followed by consequences. Updike uses literary devices such as

North American Society Relected in John Updike's Short Story A & P

898 words - 4 pages North American Society Relected in John Updike's Short Story A & P At first glance, John Updike's short story A & P seems to be another coming of age piece. But with taking a deeper look, in many ways you see how the A & P grocery store could be viewed as microcosm of North American society in the 1960's - and it's not a very positive portrait. The general bleakness of the people, the accepted coldness of the store itself, and the theme of

John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums"

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

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

John Steinbeck's “The Chrysanthemums”

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

"The Chrysanthemums" By John Steinbeck

2879 words - 12 pages As you know, women have often been portrayed as the weaker sex when compared to men but do not ask me why. It's been like that throughout the history of mankind. As a result of these assumptions, many women have been bravely trying hard to dissociate themselves from this frame of mind and become more independent with their lives. When John Steinbeck's short story "The Chrysanthemums" first appeared in the October 1937 edition of Harper's

Similar Essays

John Steinbeck’s The Chrysanthemums Essay

578 words - 2 pages In John Steinbeck’s The Chrysanthemums, the reader is introduced to the seemingly timid and shy Elisa Allen. Elisa is routinely planting her yearly sets of Chrysanthemums, which appear to be the sole receptor of her caring and gentle touch, but all the while it is evident that “the chrysanthemum stems seemed too small and easy for her energy.” Her hidden eagerness seems not only out of place, but out of touch with her dry and wilted

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

Analysis Of Elisa's Character In The Short Story "The Chrysanthemums" By John Steinbeck

705 words - 3 pages Quite often, the limits that bound a woman to her conventional standards are the cause of women's sufferings. The battle for equality has not come to pass because men hinder their ways. For a long time this has been accepted in society as the ways things are. John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums" mirrors Elisa's frustration she feels in a masculine world, and her aspiration to enjoy the life that a true woman deserves.Elisa has to suppress her

John Connors Short Story Essay

1737 words - 7 pages John Connors - Short Story It was an calm day, and John Connors found himself resting at the side of a large oak tree, admiring the beauty of the woods that surrounded him. The sunless sky covered the woods over the treetops which created a canopy over his head. The crimson and auburn foliage was a magnificent sight as