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The Man To Send Rain Clouds

1887 words - 8 pages

Depression and Isolation of Women in a Male-Dominated Society
    Women have been discriminated not only in America during the early 20th century but also at present. However, the reality of the situation somehow tells us that it is not only the manipulative ways of man that contributes to such negative circumstances but also the natural weakness of women themselves. In the story “The Chrysanthemums,” Steinbeck uses symbolism, setting and conflict to demonstrate that women feel depressed and isolated in a male-dominated society.
    The symbolism in the story actually reveals the depression and isolation of women in a society where men rule and dominate. In the story, one symbolism used to ...view middle of the document...

    Moreover, the chrysanthemums were symbolic of the neglect of men towards women. In the climax of the story, Elisa saw a “dark speck” on the ground and immediately realized that the tinker, to whom he had given the chrysanthemums and who promised to take care of them until he gives them to another gardener, deliberately simply dropped the chrysanthemums on the ground (Steinbeck). Thus, if the chrysanthemums were symbolic of the women in early 20th century America, this means that men like the tinker not only neglect them, but also tell them lies and merely use them. Just like the chrysanthemums that were dropped by the tinker on the road, Elisa too looked like a “dark speck” herself, or a lowlife that deserved no care, or a piece of dirt which even remained indistinguishable from the dirty road itself, as she herself described the dark speck she saw. Perhaps, therefore, the Depression made man hungry but indeed it made the women more miserable.
    Apart from the symbolism of the chrysanthemums, the setting of the story also demonstrates the fact that indeed women were depressed, isolated and discriminated against in America during the early 20th century. The setting is basically an exclusive trademark of Steinbeck’s , for just like in his other novels, he glorifies the setting and assigns it the role of “a template for social dislocation” (Miller 379). In fact, the significance of the setting is felt in the very first sentence of the story: “The high gray-flannel fog of winter closed off the Salinas Valley from the sky and from all the rest of the world” (Steinbeck). This is therefore a statement of isolation, which is specifically the isolation of the Salinas Valley and its characters including Elisa from the rest of the world or from the rest of America. Moreover, if the Salinas Valley were to represent all women of America during the 20th century, then the description which shows that the fog of winter “closed it off” from the rest of the world somehow clearly implies the isolation of women (Steinbeck). Moreover, being isolated from the rest of the world may mean that these women were not given enough chances to express themselves or to even be happy just like any other normal person in the world. In fact, the second sentence in the story – “On every side [the fog of winter] sat like a lid on the mountains and made of the great valley a closed pot” – also implies the isolation of women during this time (Steinbeck). For the author, the women of 20th century America were somehow locked up by the discriminating society in their own difficult circumstances by an invisible “lid” which is “the fog of winter” (Steinbeck). Winter therefore becomes symbolic of an obstacle in these women’s lives. However, it is possible that the author himself does not consider such a discrimination to be a permanent thing since he used winter as a metaphor. Winter, just like any of the four seasons, will soon just come to pass before it comes back again....

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