Chrysanthemums: Woman and Elisa Allen

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The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck

Often times, we go through life feeling confused, lost, and sad. Living life through various facades grows weary over time. Eventually, we are led to the inevitable search to strive for the discovery of who we really are. Self-identity is an important focal point in our individual triumphs and tribulations we experience in our journey of life. During times of conflict, we frequently struggle with only ourselves.

"The Chrysanthemums" by John Steinbeck, written in the mid 1900's, is a downhearted story about a woman experiencing the pain of hiding who she really is. The story takes place in Salinas Valley, California. The atmosphere of Salinas is described as "the fog of winter...sat like a lid on the mountains and made of the great valley a great closed pot" with "pale cold sunshine". We get an imagery of a very dark, damp, isolated place. A gloomy disposition is instantly created through the use of the author's somber tone as well. This place seems to be one of hopelessness and sorrow. This is foreshadowing of the main character, Elisa Allen's, denouement. We can see the distance between Elisa and her husband Henry. While she is working on her gardening, he is far away. As he suddenly arrives by her side, she is taken aback as she "started at the sound of her husband's voice. He had come near quietly." We can infer that they have a lack of communication and pleasantness in their marriage. This preface creates the foundation for Elisa's struggles we are led to discover further in the story.

Elisa Allen is first presented as a very domesticated woman. Living in a time where women do not have much of liberation, she is placed to perfectly fulfill her duties of being a good housewife. She is working on her garden when we are first met with her. In fact, she is not discussing matters with the two businessmen as her husband is. Despite this, we are told that she is a young thirty-five year old woman whom is "lean, and...
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