The Chrysanthemums Thematic Analysis

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Rebecca Kallios

Thematic Analysis Essay The short story “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck tells the story of Elisa Allen, a woman living with her husband in the Salinas Valley. Elisa is unsatisfied with her role as a rancher’s wife and would like to gain more independence and importance, yet she lives in a time when women were generally not as independent as men. The singular effect of entrapment is present throughout aspects of Elisa’s life from her personal identity, to her relationship with her husband, to her interactions with the pot mender. When the travelling pot mender arrives and speaks of his lifestyle, Elisa’s desire to see and do more in life is stirred. In the end he discards Elisa’s importance, which leaves her feeling dejected. Ultimately, she becomes defeated in her pursuit for a more meaningful existence. In “The Chrysanthemums,” author John Steinbeck represents the theme of gender inequality through the development of Elisa’s primary dilemma of a lack of purpose and importance in a society that did not see men and women as equals. The setting of the story ties into the theme of gender inequality through the use of foreshadowing. As the story begins, the Salinas Valley is described as being “closed off from the rest of the world” by the “grey-flannel fog of winter” (581). The fog sat atop the mountains “like a lid” and turned the Salinas Valley into “a closed pot” (581). The reference to a “closed pot” reflects the isolation

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