Essay on Elisa's Unfulfilled Desire in John Steinbeck's The Chrysanthemums

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Elisa's Unfulfilled Desire in Chrysanthemums

The "Chrysanthemums" was written by John Steinbeck and introduced in 1937. In this story it is evident that Elisa has suppressed sexual desires that are awakened. At the ripe age of thirty-five, Elisa is at her sexual peak, but because of being betrayed by men, she is unable to fulfill those desires.

Elisa Allen is a strong woman. She is strong because of her manly qualities. Her masculinity shines through because of the way she covers up herself. There was a feminine part of her wanting to emerge as she wore the "print dress" (279) while working in her flower garden. However, the men's clothing and accessories she wore covered this up. The "squatting" (281) position she engaged in to
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The internal instinct that a mother carries within to protect her children was exhibited in Elisa's chrysanthemums, for there was "the wire fence that protected her flower garden" (280). Elisa protected her chrysanthemums by creating barriers to keep out intruders. However, Elisa had a barrier that was penetrated.

A traveling tinker showed up at Elisa's house trying to persuade her to let him fix some pots for her. In his attempt to persuade her to let him perform a service, he showed interest in her chrysanthemums. This interest sparked Elisa and removed the barrier that made her feel masculine. She discovered that she had an inner feeling of great desire. Her sexuality was coming alive, and she liked this feeling. As she enjoyed the attention that she was getting from the tinker, she consciously was making sure her hair was in place. All the attention excited her so much, "[s]he tore off the battered hat and shook out her dark pretty hair" (283). She began to dig in the dirt with her bare hands, not even thinking about putting gloves on her hands. She wanted to feel the sand on her skin. The touch of dirt tickled her fingers as she dug. This excited her because she felt as though this was how she would feel if she was touched like that. She described how it felt to have "planting hands" (283). The very words she used to describe the
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