Sexism In The Chrysanthemums By John Steinbeck

Decent Essays

During the course of humankind's existence women have had to face many hardships that stunted their growth not only as a gender but also as individual women and evidently the 1900s were not rid of this outrageous concept of female oppression. The short story “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck that initially and superficially seems to be about flowers is actually bringing to light the social and individual issues faced by women like Elisa Allen in American society, namely Salinas Valley, California. John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums” challenges the major themes of sexism against women in order to expose the backward notions that are considered norms in the given time period and those that might still be visible in modern society. Although women still suffer from the constant backlash of sexism in modern day life; unfortunately, the odds against women were stacked even higher in the American society of the 1930’s. The first major theme that is evident in “The Chrysanthemums” revolves around Elisa’s conflict between two sides of herself that contradict themselves and her role in society. When Elisa is introduced in the story she is described as having a “lean and strong” face along with a figure that “looked blocked and heavy in her gardening costume” which naturally creates an image of masculinity surrounding, or covering, her (Steinbeck 1). This initial characterization suggests that Elisa is strong and sturdy; however, this aura of masculinity is actually due to her

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