The Characteristics Of Women In The Chrysanthemums By John Steinbeck

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In “The Chrysanthemums”, John Steinbeck illustrates how women where frustrated with their lives back in the 19th century. How they were fighting to gain equality from a world dominated by men. The author stated once that women were strong and that they may be stronger than men; that is why we can see in the story how Elisa Allen, the protagonist, is described with many “strong” characteristics. Throughout the story, Elisa is taking care of her flowers in her garden, while she has conversations with her husband and encounters herself with a tinker who works on the road fixing things; she goes through many emotions during that day and the author tries to make us, the readers, understand the struggles women had to deal with back then. The author …show more content…
Her garden was her work zone, where she felt proud and safe from the outsiders. One of the things that symbolize her flowers as it is mentioned before are her wanted children. Because by reading the story we can conclude that she and her husband Henry Allen does not have any children, that empty space in Elisa’s heart is filled with the taking care of the chrysanthemums. She loves her flowers, she is proud of them, in her ability to grow such beautiful things, like a mother would be of her children, and she protects her flowers with a fence so nothing bad would happen to them. When Henry tells Elisa that her chrysanthemums are strong and big she feels like an excellent mother. Although that moment lasted only few seconds because when her husband reminds her that she could grow bigger and heavier things, or that even he could do that, her mindset of “my husband loves how careful and strong I am” was shut down. That is how quickly a man could make a woman feel bad and less about …show more content…
At the time she starts to talk with the tinker that appeared on the road, and how he fixes things and how he compliments her chrysanthemums, the feminine side she had lost before when talking with her husband suddenly came back. Her romance was missing in her marriage and her husband cannot appreciate or recognize her emotional needs and femininity very well. She was very vulnerable when the tinker came, but seeing how the tinker admired her and her flowers, she started to think that there could be actual hope that her marriage would gain more romance after all. But little by little her realization that her life is never going to change is crystal clear when Henry tells her a very unflattering remark on her appearance that brings Elisa’s ego down, he says that “(she) looks different … strong enough to break a calf over (her) knee, happy enough to eat it like a watermelon” (Steinbeck). And moreover, when she sees the chrysanthemums she gave the tinker on the side of the road. It absolutely devastated her that she has to settle for such an unfulfilling life. That is why the story ends with her “crying weakly - like an old woman”

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