In The Chrysanthemums, Elisa is a woman who is trapped at her husband Henry’s ranch by her gender and society’s idea of what a woman can manage. She is a very strong, capable woman who works all day to make the house spotless and the garden thrive. Elisa is good at her work, “behind her stood the neat white farm house… it was hard swept looking little house, with hard-polished windows, and a clean mud-mat on the front steps”. That show just how much work she puts into keeping the house clean. Elisa knows she is capable of successfully accomplishing any number of what society labels as men’s work and being held back makes her bitter and resentful. In an attempt to feel freedom, Elisa gifts some of her chrysanthemums to a traveling solicitor. She is devastated when she spots the flowers dumped on the road on her way to town with Henry. Elisa, like her flowers, feels discarded and devalued by men and society.
One of the risks Elisa takes is trusting the repairman, also by telling him her thoughts and feelings, and by giving him the “Chrysanthemums” plant. At the end of the story, it shows that Elisa feels sad and betrayed because. When she told the repairman about how she feels he said, “a woman can't live the life he lives.” Then he describes how it feels and she felt even worse. The second way she got betrayed was when she gave him the “Chrysanthemums plant.” Later on in the story when she was going out for dinner on the way there she sees the “Chrysanthemums” holder. She makes up excuses to make herself feel better but it did not work.
If he gave her any personal praise, as a woman of distinct qualities (one who was vital to the farm's survival), he might be empowering her. Thus, he keeps his praise for her superficial skills, growing flowers. In this way, Henry frustrates Elisa by not seeing into her true character. The flowers represent Elisa trying to find some way of escaping from her frustrated and repressed husband, not from her own sexual frustration.
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 clearly seen. These inner feelings are most apparent with the portrayal of Elisa working in the garden with the chrysanthemums, the conversation she has with the man passing through, and finally, when she and her husband are going out to dinner.
In “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck it surrounds a woman named Elisa. Elisa’s marriage dynamic proves to be complicated as the banter between her and her husband Henry demonstrates the inability to communicate. Isolation leaves Elisa not satisfied in her life and marriage. Therefore, the loneliness Elisa looks for comfort when a tinker shows up looking for work and cons her. The tinker appealed to Elisa making her feel less alone than she usually does and even shows interest in her beloved flowers. By the tinker using Elisa’s interests, her loneliness subsides as she then craves the attention he gives. In “The Chrysanthemum” Steinbeck shows a theme of isolation throughout the story as Elisa is isolated from society, isolated from her own feelings, and even in her marriage.
Steinbeck introduces Elisa, the main character, as a masculine young woman with a “face lean and strong” (Steinbeck 209) and “her figure looked blocked and heavy in her gardening costume, a man’s black hat...clod-hopper shoes.” (Steinbeck 209) He lets the chrysanthemums symbolize Elisa’s true beauty. She feels that her husband does not see her as beautiful woman. All he can see is a house wife and a gardener. He shows little interest in the chrysanthemums. When Henry says, “You’ve got
Elisa, also a housewife, usually had activities involved in routine housework and maintaining her flower garden, that was filled with chrysanthemums. She took care of the chrysanthemums as if they were her children, and being a farmers’ wife, she had more free time than her husband, Henry. When the tinker, also known as the tin man, came up to Elisa for work he tried to manipulate her into giving him some work to do. When the tinker saw there was no way Elisa would give him work, he tried to work her. “What’s them plants, ma’am?” (Steinbeck, 208). Tinker asked Elisa about the plants probably so he could influence her about chrysanthemums- that way they bond on the subject of the flowers and from there Elisa started to explain the importance of these flowers. Elisa doesn’t realize she’s being played with until near the end when tinker finally leaves she waves goodbye to him but her voice drops as she says the word “Goodbye to goodbye”, finding that the tinker threw Elisa’s chrysanthemums away (Steinbeck, 210). This quote showed the attachment for the chrysanthemums Elisa had, and the minute the tinker threw away those flowers, it broke Elisa’s heart. This makes Elisa thinks about how a man can get what he wants while Elisa
Elisa Allen is a lonely woman who enjoys growing and nourishing her chrysanthemums. Since her husband is always working the cattle in their farm, she never has enough attention or any kind of affection. The result of this dispassionate marriage leads Steinbeck to describe his main character as follows, "Her face lean and strong Her figure looked blocked and heavy in her gardening costume, a man's black hat pulled low clod-hopper shoes completely covered by a big corduroy apron " (Page 206-207) This neglect from her busband causes her to turn to her
In "The Chrysanthemums" John Steinbeck develops a theme of limitations. The story is essentially a man in the mirror story where the rigid Elisa sees herself for the first time as trapped. Although Elisa has recognized her life as limited and confining, she sadly accepts her life as is and does nothing to rectify her situation. In John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums" symbolism of the fence, the garden, and the chrysanthemums help illustrate the story by striking an emotional chord with the audience.
There are many symbolic references to Elisa Allen as a sexually repressed and frustrated woman. One representation of the chrysanthemum is Elisa's passion and eagerness to live and experience life a content woman. While tending her chrysanthemums "she pulled out the crisp little roots and trimmed of the leaves of each one with her scissors (Steinbeck 1464)." This is a symbolism of Elisa Allen closing off all opportunities to grow as a sexual woman; She has resigned herself to the monotonous life as a complacent farmer's wife (Lee 1). The "figured print dress (Steinbeck 1463)" under the apron shows the readers that Elisa is aware of her sexuality but instead of acting on it has chosen to subdue it. She keeps her sexuality and passions under control like she cares for her chrysanthemums "laid [in a] small [and] orderly pile (Steinbeck 1464)" (Lee 1). Elisa begins to allow this sexuality to emerge when the traveling tinker romantically describes her
Elisa has obviously taken on a more masculine façade due to her years spent on the farm. However, it seems apparent, both early on and later in the story that she has tried to maintain what femininity she has.
Steinbeck uses Elisa’s clothing to symbolize her masculinity as well as her isolation from the outside world in order to reveal how society’s standards cause women to become frustrated with the opportunities
The short story "The Chrysanthemums" gives insight into the life of its author. John Steinbeck was born on February 27, 1902, in Salinas, California. The locale of the story is of key resemblance to the Salinas in which Steinbeck was born and bread. "Salinas was a typical American small town, [differing] only in location and a few distinctive features" (McCarthy 3). The protagonist of this story, Elisa Allen, also resembles Steinbeck's first wife. "Steinbeck probably based the character of Elisa Allen on his own first wife, Carol Henning Steinbeck. Like Elisa, Carol was a woman of considerable talent and energy who wore 'masculine clothes' and was 'strong, large-boned' and 'handsome rather than
As she looks out to these men, we look at Elisa. Although she is doing the "feminine" work of gardening, she is dressed like a man. She wore a black hat low on her forehead to cover her hair, thick leather gloves covered her hands, and clodhopper shoes covering her small woman's feet. A "big corduroy apron" covered the dress making "her figure look blocked and heavy" (396). Unconsciously, as she looks through her fence at the men talking business, she is trying to cover up her feminine qualities. She longs to be in their position and possess their characteristics.
Elisa Allen, of “The Chrysanthemums,” had an emptiness within herself that she could never expose to the world; instead she kept it in until she no longer could. She ends up revealing her shadow to a stranger who gave her the desire she wanted. Elisa had a dream that she does not realize at first, but begins to realize it when the opportunity was in front of her. Her husband, who does not share the same interest as her with her garden, would only verbally support her interest when it came that he can see and receive profit from it. Her dream is to have a husband that shows interest in her biggest hobby that is gardening. Although she seems happy with her current husband Henry, she never realized how much she loves it when they talk about her gardening, even