The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck Essay

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Steinbeck’s “Chrysanthemums”:
How Boundaries Limited Elisa’s Pursuing for Self Fulfillment
“The Chrysanthemums”, “a brilliant piece of writing, perhaps the best story Steinbeck ever wrote”, as expressed by Jay Parini in his article Lawrence’s and Steinbeck’s “Chrysanthemums”, is one of the most interesting and ambiguous story of this writer. Steinbeck’s little story shows to the reader the reality of women during the nineteenth hundreds and the great depression.
In order to show this reality, Steinbeck uses the world and behavior of a woman, Elisa Allen a thirty five years old wife of a farmer, who is surrounded by multiple boundaries which prevent her of living a happy and satisfactory life.
The author presents the story to us by using personified landscape as well as metaphors to better express Elisa’s character and fertility. A very accurate and polished landscape is described by the author, and things such as rain and fog in the Salinas Valley represent husband and wife. However, most of the story concentrates in Elisa’s duality between true-self and desired-self.


The boundary of time period and men’s domination over women is strongly reinforced in Elisa’s life. Taking into account the time period in which this short story had place, it is very easy to see Elisa’s frustration with an enclosed routine. In this time period in which the Great Depression was a reality, women’s matters were defined as what was private when on the other hand, men’s matters were…