The Chrysanthemums By John Steinbeck Analysis

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In his short story “The Chrysanthemums” John Steinbeck presents a middle-aged woman who uses her passion for gardening as an outlet or a way to deal with an unhappy marriage. The story’s dominant tone is melancholy and towards the end switches to envy. These tones are created by a combination of language elements including imagery, symbolism, and dialogue. Both tones are further supported by the fiction elements character versus conflict. Elisa Allen is married to Mr. Henry Allen, a successful and somewhat affluent farmer. The story begins with Elisa working diligently in her flower garden, something I believe she does often, while her husband Henry is off to the side having what seems to be an important conversation with three tailored businessmen. After the men have left, he walks over to Elisa and invites her out to dinner and a picture show downtown to celebrate the business deal of getting his money’s worth from selling his …show more content…
Imagery, I believe, being the most important. Imagery is a mental impression of the story planted through words and phrases the author generates. In this particular story, Steinbeck uses figurative imagery through similes and metaphors. “On every side it sat like a lid on the mountains and made of the great valley a closed pot.” (Steinbeck 276) This particular quote opens the story and I immediately think of Elisa’s emotions and feelings forced to be shut off. She doesn’t feel like a “strong” woman when she is with her husband. Henry pretty much puts her on the back burner while conveniently praising her gardening skills, so as not to seem too much of a controller. The characters descriptions and personalities are revealed through imagery as well, such as, “her eyes were as clear as water” and “The Chrysanthemum stems seemed too small and easy for her energy.” (Steinbeck

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