The Chrysanthemums Essay

1649 Words7 Pages
John Steinbeck’s, The Chrysanthemums, was published in 1938 in a book of short stories, entitled The Long Valley. The Chrysanthemums has been a rather powerful draw for scholars because of its wide gap for interpretations and analysis of its main protagonist character, Elisa Allen and also the unique descriptions used to portray the deeper meaning behind the setting of the story. Themes of sexuality, oppression of women, as well as other numerous types of conflict portrayed in this rather somber short story have made it a popular study among scholars and students alike. Steinbeck also uses literary elements including a dramatic tone, rich symbolism, and personification which increase the stories feeling and value exponentially. Steinbeck…show more content…
In conjunction with the symbolic representation of Elisa’s life, the dramatic description of the environment can also be seen as a unique representation of the relationship conflict between husband and wife. Steinbeck’s foggy description demonstrates conflict through the following statement, "a time of quiet and waiting." This description is interesting because the fields are personified as waiting for rain, however, “rain and fog do not go together” therein lies the conflict just as Elisa waits for a positive change in how her husband treats her (Palmerino, Gregory J). Gregory P. further points out that, “The natural elements of the foothills ranch seem as unwilling to confront each other as the characters that inhabit its environs. Hence, fog and rain can be seen as the female and male equivalents to Elisa and Henry.” This only further solidifies the deep rooted troubles within Elisa and her relationship with her husband. The setting of the story is personified to act as a symbolic representation of the couple’s relationship (Steinbeck, John 337-338).
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
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