The Birth And Death Of A Modern Woman: On The Book "The Chrysanthemums" By John Steinbeck.

1470 words - 6 pages

The Birth and Death of a Modern WomanAlthough the suffrage movement gave women equality and the women's the right to vote; it took some years for a lot of women to evolve into the woman of today. Not only did it take women a long time, but it took men longer to give up the control they had over them in the past and accept them as equal. In "The Chrysanthemums" by John Steinbeck, we see the birth of Elisa Allen as a modern woman. However, her birth is short lived because of her inability to communicate her feelings to a controlling and overbearing husband.As we enter the story we see Elisa attending to her flower garden. Her house is already clean and tidy; so she is attending to her passion, her chrysanthemums. Her husband Henry arrives on the scene and makes mention of her strong crop of flowers. He tells her that she should "work in the orchard and raise some apples that big" (Steinbeck 2). When he says this it says that "her eyes sharpened" (2), this is extremely important because we are seeing a brief flash of anger, showing that she knows that although she is highly capable he will not let her. A few lines later he just brushes her off by switching the topic back to the flowers. He is showing us his control over what his wife does, not just on the farm, but in her life in just these few lines.I used to live on a farm when I was young so I know a lot about the life that these folks live. When I was younger I can even remember my grandmother making comments about my mother going out to help us haul hay wagons. Her idea for a farm woman was for her to be in the house. Whether it be making the meals, canning foods, or cleaning the house, only under the most dire of circumstances should a woman help in the barn regularly.I see the same thoughts with Henry. Just by brushing his wife off when she offers to help in the orchard he is saying that for her to tend to the yard and the flower garden is enough outdoor work for her. I can envision him telling her a woman's place is in the house.We further see Henrys control over Elisa when he comes up to tell her they will be going to dinner later that evening. He says, "and I thought how it's Saturday afternoon, and we might go into Salinas for dinner at a restaurant, and then to a picture show-to celebrate you see" (3). He doesn't come and say "hey honey I was wondering if you would like to go into town with me this evening to celebrate, since I've just sold 30 head of cattle." He might as well of just said to her, were going into town tonight, like it or not because i'm the head of this household. Throughout their conversation their we feel an air of unwillingness, like she's not sure if she wants to but she goes along with it anyway. It is this air of unwillingness that leads to her birth as a modern woman.When the hobo comes to her house, she resists giving the hobo any work to do. This shows that she is resistant to change because, she cannot employ a man. I mean how could a woman employ a man? It...

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