John Steinbeck The Chrysanthemums Analysis

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“The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck examines a moment in the life of Elisa Allen, house wife and gardener. The story tells of Elisa’s experience with a traveling tinkerer who aims to earn a bit of money repairing their pots and pans. While the interaction with the man does not last long, it awakens something in Elisa that she had long put to bed. Steinbeck masterfully captures the suppressive life of an American wife in the 1930’s with realistic style. The story beings on a hazy December day with Elisa tending to her chrysanthemums, the story’s namesake, and her husband talking to some unnamed businessmen. This is the first time that Elisa is described with her attributes matching a masculine figure very closely. Steinbeck describes her in the …show more content…
In the beginning of the story its described with the fog acing as a lid on the pot of the valley (1061). The description of a closed pot closely mirrors the language Steinbeck uses to describe the life of Elisa as a prison. It’s no wonder Steinbeck would use a valley, which is enclosed on both sides by mountains, in which to place this story. The time of the story constitute the ultimate restraint on Elisa as woman’s right had only been brought to light in the past 15 years, with their right to vote, and the thought that a woman wanted anything other than to be a housewife was still somewhat perplexing to the patriarchy of the time. The time period is important to the story as Steinbeck uses this place in this specific era to better represent what an average housewife would feel rather than one in an urban setting or a poorer setting. Steinbeck would not be able to use another time period, save for one that is sooner, for the setting because a woman’s place in the world is ever changing and increasingly complex. To use another time period or place would be tricky and would require a fundamental rewrite of the entire

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