April 15, 2013
“The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck was born in 1902 and lived during what is said to be the most troubled time in American history. Steinbeck was alive during the Dust Bowl paired with the Great Depression, which is believed to be the reason for his almost melancholiac tone in some of his works but he seemed a very diverse writer. Along with “The Chrysanthemums”, Steinbeck is the author of the well-known and famous novel turned movie The Grapes of Wrath, where he used a “documentary style”, says Cliff Lewis in his online article he named after Steinbeck. Moreover in his article, Lewis expresses some of the lingering secrets and personality conflicts that some of Steinbeck’s characters struggle with that one might take away from Steinbeck’s famous literature. Steinbeck is an excellent writer, winning a Pulitzer Prize as well as the National Book Award. Steinbeck is not only a talented author, he is described as a “story-teller” by Lewis, which is clearly displayed by Steinbeck’s constant and subtle lessons throughout his short story, “The Chrysanthemums”. Careful character study of the three most mentioned characters, the loving husband, Henry Allen, the mysterious peddler traveling through Salinas Valley, and finally the perfect sinner Elisa Allen will be discussed throughout this character analysis of “The Chrysanthemums” by Steinbeck.
Henry Allen is the “perfect” husband by the standards of the criteria that men were expected to have during the setting of the story. What more could a woman (in this time) want? A successful business man to provide and take care of Mrs. Allen, the occasional fluffing of egos when necessary, and of course a candle-lit dinner and a show once a month, and repeat. Henry might seem to have his wife’s best interest as long as it is also up to a woman’s standards. Mr. Allen will give or do anything for his wife to be happy as...