Steinbeck had strong supports for many themes in his short story, “The Chrysanthemums”. One theme that started the poem and ended the poem was the theme of isolation. It was clear that Elisa felt alone through her entire life, even when she was with her husband. She did not feel a connection with him, but she did feel a connection with her chrysanthemums. Elisa was so isolated from everything around her that she found a true earthly connection with flowers. She was excited whenever she could talk about them or they were brought up. No matter what situation it was she wanted to talk about her flowers. This theme of isolation was repeated when she stopped talking to the stranger about her chrysanthemums and again at the end of the story. …show more content…
Now that the lonely setting his set, Steinbeck brings characters to the reader to show their loneliness: “Elisa Allen, working in her flower garden, looked down across the yard and saw Henry, her husband, talking to two men in business suits,”. Elisa is the main character of this short story, and where the center of loneliness will swirl around. Although Steinbeck does not blantely state that Elisa feels lonely, but it is highly considerable that she is quite lonely while she looks down at her husband. Steinbeck then adds repetition within his story, “Elisa watched them for a moment and then went back to her work,”, “She looked down toward the men by the tractor shed now and then,”, “Elisa cast another glance toward the tractor shed,”. Elisa wants her husband to be near her and want to be with her. She knows that she will not get this because of how distant they are from each other. This distance from the first they are introduced, foreshadows what type of relationship these two have. Their marriage is cold, dark, and distance; all tones Steinbeck has used in this short beginning of the story. Obviously, since Elisa has this type of relationship, she feels lonely, and this where the theme all begins. Her only type of connection with the outer world is through her chrysanthemums: “Her face was eager and mature and handsome; even her work with scissors was over-eager, over-powerful,”. She was excited about tending to her flowers every year. While some
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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
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.
Seemingly, the flowers represent Elisa. She believes she is strong and tough and able to accomplish anything thrown her way; however, taken for granted as she is only a woman allowed to look and act accordingly. Surrounding the flowers is a wire fence set up to keep out predators and to separate the flowers from the rest of the farm. The wire fence is symbolic in the fact that it is identical to the world Elisa lives in. Elisa is contained within the farm, unable to explore or leave without the help of someone else. Elisa is stuck on the farm, isolated from the rest of the world so that she can be kept safe. Naive and unaware of how the world works, her husband keeps her on the farm to protect her from harm. When Elisa gives the chrysanthemum to the travelling merchant, she gives him a small piece of herself. Later, as her and her husband are driving to town, she sees the flower tossed aside as though it was nothing; as a result, she realizes she could never go off on and live the way the merchant had. The flowers embody her character still, and how out of her home without protection, the world can be harsh and cruel. In short, Elisa’s isolation leaves her ignorant, unable to understand how callous the world is, and comes to the bleak realization that she can’t live a life anywhere outside of her fence. Because of how women were treated, constantly pushed down and unable to pursue their interests, Elisa is left unable to learn what life has to offer. Learning
John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums”, is a story about a woman struggling with strong inner feelings of loneliness and isolation. Elisa Allen is initially portrayed as a woman who overcompensates and whose tasks are far exceeded by her abilities. She appears content with her life and adores tending to her garden. However, a tinker briefly enters her life and through his power of persuasion and manipulation provides Elisa with hopes of change and excitement. He gives her the much needed attention she is so desperately looking for. As the story continues we learn that these hopes are crushed as we unravel the betrayal the tinker has bestowed upon Elisa. He exploits her and takes advantage of her hunger for company, aspirations, and
In John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums”, he uses the chrysanthemums, fence, and garden to symbolize Elisa’s thoughts and feelings throughout his story. He uses these symbols to show love, neglect, loneliness, protection, and passion for his characters.
John Steinbeck uses symbolism to give alternate meanings to his short story &#8220;Chrysanthemums.'; A symbol is a device used to suggest more than its literary meaning. He uses these symbols to look further into the characters and their situations. The character Elisa has a garden, which is more than just a garden, and the chrysanthemums that she tends are more than just flowers. There are actions that she performs in the story, which also have other meanings.
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
The story “The Chrysanthemums “took place in the Salinas Valley in central California, the time was in December. These two elements set the scene of the story. Letting you imagine a valley with farms around it. This is very important in the story because it helps the reader see how one may live back in this time period on a farm. It also help set the picture for the rest of the story to how she and her husband’s relationship is and how a Tinker came in and helped cheer Elisa up and lead her to believe change could be ahead for her. Which suddenly was taken away.
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
The story concerns the unhappy marriage, which appears to be a theme in many of Steinbeck’s short stories, and the psychological effects this has primarily on the wife, Elisa Allen. The central character, Elisa, is appealing to many readers and scholars alike, because of the depth of her persona. Elisa is introduced to us in a less than feminine fashion which can be seen as a hint at oppression of women in
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.
"The Chrysanthemums", one of John Steinbeck's masterpieces, describes a lonely farmer's wife, Elisa Allen. Elisa Allen's physical appearance is very mannish yet still allows a hint of a feminine side to peek through. John Steinbeck brings symbolism into play to represent Elisa Allen's frustrations and hidden passions. Isolation is another representation through symbolism found in "The Chrysanthemums." Elisa's failing detached marriage is represented through two symbols. The two reoccurring symbols are the chrysanthemums and fences. John Steinbeck draws pity from the reader for Elisa Allen who desperately wishes to experience the passions of a fulfilling marriage and the stimulation of
She does not help with the ranch or the cultivation of the orchard, but rather tends to her own garden. Her reportedly stellar chrysanthemums represent her delicate side. By maintaining and ensuring a yearly exemplary flourish, Elisa sustains and nourishes her suppressed womanly essence. Although Steinbeck reveals that, “The
Steinbeck uses chrysanthemum’s to symbolize Elisa’s strength and power in order to show how societal standards cause women to miss out on opportunities and become frustrated with the confinement of their expression. “[Elisa] was cutting down the old year's chrysanthemum stalks with a pair of short and powerful scissors. She looked down toward the men by the tractor shed now and then. Her face was eager and mature and handsome; even her work with the scissors was over-eager, over-powerful.” Chrysanthemum stalks require a great deal of force to be cut down, which is highlighted through Elisa’s use of “powerful scissors.” Ordinarily, flowers are portrayed as beautiful and delicate; however, chrysanthemums are sturdy and tough. Steinbeck chose specifically to use chrysanthemums because they symbolize the strength Elisa has; she is confident, empowered, and masculine, but all of her strength is confined within the standards of society just as the chrysanthemums are confined within the walls of her garden. Elisa, as a woman, is unable to express herself as strong, masculine, and proud because that was not the standard that women were held to during that time; her expression is confined to her work in the garden with her chrysanthemums, and it is frustrating for her to miss out on the opportunities that would showcase her strength and let it be appreciated by her husband and the mender because of the standard of delicacy and beauty that women are held to.
John Steinbeck, in his short story "The Chrysanthemums" depicts the trials of a woman attempting to gain power in a man's world. Elisa Allen tries to define the boundaries of her role as a woman in such a closed society. While her environment is portrayed as a tool for social repression, it is through nature in her garden where Elisa gains and shows off her power. As the story progresses, Elisa has trouble extending this power outside of the fence that surrounds her garden. In the end, Elisa learns but does not readily accept, that she possesses a feminine power weak for the time, not the masculine one she had tried so hard to achieve through its imitation.