John Steinbeck's “The Chrysanthemums” Essay

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John Steinbeck's “The Chrysanthemums”

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.

Steinbeck's strong and somewhat manly description of
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In the portion of the story where Elisa is talking to the "Fixer-Guy" who happens to pull down the road to her farm, Steinbeck shows Elisa's eagerness for attention and how she comes to the realization that there is a more exciting life outside the farm. In the “Fixer-Guy”, Elisa finds somebody who sees her as more than a housewife, someone who can appreciate her from an unbiased viewpoint. He offers his services and she turns him down saying “I tell you I have nothing like that for you to do.” At first she resists conversation with him. Then when he asks about her plants Steinbeck writes “The irritation and resistance melted from Elisa’s face.” “I raise them every year, bigger than anybody around here”, she boasts. She is now very eager to talk about her chrysanthemums. Elisa's face becomes "tight with eagerness" as she talks about them, as if they were her children. The vibes from her infatuation with these flowers are picked up by the old man, and there is an unspoken connection between these two perfect strangers as they have both chosen their own preoccupation in life, his being a passion of pots and hers a love of chrysanthemums. It is this connection that ignites the realization that she longs to break free from the everyday routine she calls life. This feeling is so strong that "her hand went out toward his legs in the greasy black trousers" as if to grasp a piece
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