Women's Symbolism In The Chrysanthemums By John Steinbeck

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The shorty story “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck, deals with a person who is at odds with an unjust society. The story is about Elisa Allen who is unsatisfied with current life. Elisa’s frustration stems from not having a child and that her husband fails to appreciate her passionately as a woman (Kennedy). To ease her frustration, Elisa nurtures flowers in her garden where she grows chrysanthemums. The chrysanthemums are Steinbeck’s symbol for Elisa’s inner self and the inner self of every woman (Kassim). The inner self and qualities of women include the gentle care a mother has when taking care of the their kin, the femininity a women portrays, and the sexuality of women. The chrysanthemums symbolize both Elisa and the very dull and …show more content…
When Elisa cares for her flowers and acts as if they were her own children it is a display of a feminine quality. However in her relationship with Henry, her masculine image is what Henry sees because of the well-swept and polished wood in the house and her work ethic keeping the house tidy and caring for her garden. Henry does not see her feminine qualities such as care and love. (Steinbeck). Elisa’s relationship with her husband is not an ideal marriage because she feels as if he does not appreciate or acknowledge her feminine qualities. Because Elisa feels this way, she thinks that her husband does not appreciate her flowers either. There is resentment towards henry because he fails to see Elisa’s needs causing discontent between the two. Even though Henry fails to see Elisa’s needs, she too does not trey to explain her self to her husband and rather keep silent. Elisa is left vulnerable when Henry doesn’t recognize her needs and what the chrysanthemums mean to her, especially when he says that he wishes she would work in the orchard patch and grow apples just like she grows her flowers …show more content…
She is feeling refreshed and much like a woman with her feministic qualities. Elisa has scrubbed off her old masculine self and applies make up and dolls her self up so she may look pleasing to her husband. However, her hopes are slightly shattered when Henry’s compliment involves her strength and breaking a calf on her knees. The remark does not help with Elisa’s womanly self-image because she is trying to demonstrate a very feminine and sexual conduct with her appearance (Kassim). On the way to the destination, Elisa sees her flowers on the side of the rode. This event crushes all of her hopes of being appreciated in her feminine characteristic. The Tinkers rejection of the flowers directly correlates with the rejection of Elisa herself. Just as Henry has, the Tinker has failed to acknowledge Elisa’s feminine qualities. Because of this act, she has no more hope left in her. The Tinker’s rejection of the flowers also resembles the way society has rejected women as merely caretakers and wives. Just like Elisa, the flowers are trivial and also irrelevant: both she and the flowers are simply decorative and add little value to the world. She has to come to the conclusion that her husband and any person will recognize her femininity and sexuality as a woman. Elisa has come to the realization that she must learn to be satisfied with her boring husband and her non-romantic life. Her life

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