My Interpretation of the Chrysanthemums Essay

1520 Words Nov 15th, 2012 7 Pages
My Interpretation of “The Chrysanthemums”

“The Chrysanthemums” is one of John Steinbeck’s popular short stories. “The Chrysanthemums” represents inequality of gender, limitations, and feminism. The story is about a married woman living in the early 1900s who longs for a more exciting, meaningful existence. Elisa Allen is intelligent, accomplished, attractive, and ambitious. Yet she feels confined in her life and marriage. Steinbeck uses the world around Elisa to give the reader a comparison to her life. The story takes place in the Salinas Valley at her husband, Henry Allen’s, ranch in the foot-hills. Steinbeck opens the story up by describing to us how the fog closes off the Salinas Valley from the sky and from
…show more content…
How can you tell?” He protests “I don’t know ma’am, of course I don’t know” (445). We are given the impression of strength and capability in Elisa. We can tell Elisa’s a good nurturer because of the way she tends her garden and keeps a clean organized home. Her chrysanthemums are the biggest healthiest chrysanthemums around. Despite all that she has no children. Elisa puts all of her motherly energy into her flowers to fill the void of childlessness. Henry makes the statement to Elisa how she could make anything grow. “You’ve got a gift with things, some of those yellow chrysanthemums you had this year were ten inches across. I wish you’d work out in the orchard and raise some apples that big” (439). I believe this represents Elisa’s fertility and Henry’s lack thereof. Steinbeck describes Elisa’s clothing in the beginning of the story as masculine. “A man’s black hat pulled low down over her eyes, clod-hopper shoes, a figured print dress almost completely covered by a big corduroy apron with four big pockets to hold the snips, the trowel and scratcher, the seeds and the knife she worked with. She wore heavy leather gloves to protect her hands while she worked” (438-439). This description reflects her lack of sexuality. Shortly after she meets the traveler she begins to shed some of these items, like the gloves and hat. At first she feels irritated by the insistency of the man because she had no need for someone to repair her pots or sharpen her

Related Documents