The Chrysanthemums

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Prompt: How do the chrysanthemums as well as other symbols throughout the short story show women’s role in society?
A Potential for Equality Humans, just as flowers, cannot fully live without sunlight. They cannot develop without nourishment, and most of all they cannot flourish if not carefully tended to. Just as the Chrysanthemums fight to stay strong and meaningful in the short story, “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck, the main character, Emily, tries to do the same. Both the setting and overall mood of the characters, support the comparison of Emily to her Chrysanthemums. She is faced with many obstacles such as her oblivious husband and her lack of exposure to the world. Steinbeck’s description of the setting, his
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Elisa’s frustration of being held back as a woman is reflected in her masculine description because she wishes to be treated as a man; with equality and recognition. Elisa’s hard work and passion she puts into her chrysanthemums makes her feel strong and powerful. But the chrysanthemums also symbolize Elisa and her limited possibilities because they are both often overlooked.
Throughout the short story, Elisa has a strong connection with her chrysanthemums. Not only does their maintenance take up most of her time, but they resemble her role in society quite figuratively. From their physical appearances to their overall meaning to the world, both the flowers and Elisa lack any sort of significance. Chrysanthemums are most often referred to by their symbol of optimism and joy; which are both feelings brought to Elisa as she tends to her flowers. Also being perennials, these flowers come back year after year which is represented through the reoccurring theme of Elisa’s strive to be equal. The chrysanthemums not only represent her role in society, but they also speak for many women throughout the world today that deserve more exposure and equality than they are given.

Works Cited
Dickmann, Denise. "A Woman Bound By Society." John Steinbeck 's "The Chrysanthemums": A Woman Bound By Society. Lone Star College System, n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2013.
Steinbeck, John. "The Chrysanthemums." Literature and the Writing Process. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan Day, and Robert
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