Characters Effect on a Reader

Topics: John Steinbeck, Thought, Library of America Pages: 4 (1313 words) Published: May 25, 2013
Characters Effect on a Reader

Characters dealing with a situation affect each reader differently. The characters reaction to a situation may have a reader feel exactly as the character does, or in some instances, the reader may look more at how differently they would feel in the same situation. In an attempt to answer Henry James on how characters are only as interesting as their response to the particular situation we will look at “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck and “To Build a Fire” by Jack London.

In “The Chrysanthemums” we are introduced to Elisa Allen at her ranch working in her garden. She is described in the story as:

“She was thirty five. Her face was lean and strong and her eyes were clear as water. Her figure was blocked and heavy in her gardening costume, a man’s black hat pulled down over her eyes, clodhopper shoes, a figured print dress almost completely covered by a big corduroy apron with four big pockets to hold the snips, the trowel and scratcher, the seeds and the knife she worked with. She wore heavy leather gloves to protect her hand while she worked.”(Steinbeck 242)

This detail gives the reader the mental picture of Elisa. The description makes it easy for the reader to know exactly what she looks like. Being around the outdoors and growing up on a farm helps me in picturing how a busy female rancher would look. This sets up the reader for when the wagon pulls up. As the gentlemen from the wagon talks with Elisa in attempt to get her to purchase work from him, I felt there was sexual tension between the two. Elisa attempts to hold her ground in the hopes he would just go away, but he finally breaks through to her by showing interest in her Chrysanthemums. By showing that they had something in common, the gentlemen is able to break the guard Elisa had put up, and she in turn, gives him work to do by fixing old saucepans. Once the gentlemen leaves, she runs into the house and begins to bathe almost...
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