Gender Criticism Essay of John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums"

702 Words Nov 29th, 2012 3 Pages
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Essay Sample: Page 2
She then relents and goes to find some work for the man. This scene points to a woman’s weakness for flattery. Elisa doesn’t realize that the man was manipulating her.

Her attraction to the handy man seems to bring out the feminine side of Elisa. She goes in to get ready for dinner with her husband and scrubs herself “until her skin was scratched and red”. She is retreating back to her feminine traits without really thinking about it. She then puts on her best underwear and dress and applies makeup. Her husband comments on how nice she looks, and this flatters her.

While on the way to dinner with her husband Elisa finally realizes that she had been taken advantage of. She sees that the handy man has discarded her beloved chrysanthemums in the ditch on the side of the road. She realizes that the man used flattery of her and her flowers to get work. This realization makes her break down and cry. She then understands that she is doomed to her current role in society, a passive woman, and she hates it.

This story also points to the arrogance and assumptions of men. Elisa’s husband never thinks that there could possibly be anything for her to be unhappy about. Elisa starts to get combative toward him and challenging his compliments when they are getting ready to leave the house. She is upset that he told her she looked nice, when earlier in the day he described her as strong. Then after she sees the flowers on the side of the
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