“In a Mans World”
#In John Steinbeck’s, Chrysanthemums, he generalizes the spirit of a woman and delivers to the audience her thoughts and underlying emotions of being a woman in a “man’s world.” The chrysanthemums reflects Elisa’s character and her dreams of being free to grow, make decisions, free to travel, make her own money and most of all the desire to be attractive. Elisa feels closed in and secluded from the rest of the world, just as Steinbeck describes the atmosphere at the introduction of the story, “The high grey-flannel fog of winter closed off the Salinas Valley from the sky and from all the rest of the world” (192). Feeling weak and powerless, Elisa unconsciously demonstrates the characteristics of masculinity in order to assimilate into a world not of a woman. For instance, she dresses in clothes that are too big for her feminine features and wears her husband’s huge hat which covers her soft womanly features. Therefore, all of her tools and gardening were, to her, considered “powerful” and strong. In lines 27-29, Elisa is clearly mimicking the power displayed the men talking in the shed (her husband and two men) “She looked down toward the men by the tractor shed now and then. Her face was eager and mature and handsome; even her work with the scissors was over-eager, over-powerful” (193). Elisa’s deepest passion is to be strong and powerful. In line 29, the chrysanthemums are described as “too small and easy” as it seemed to Elisa, though, resembling her own self-image. She exhibits control in the presence of her husband, not to appear diminutive. As she responds to her husband’s comments (“You’ve got a strong new crop coming.”) regarding her chrysanthemums, she straightens her stance and condescendingly tells him that her chrysanthemums will be strong soon “Yes. They’ll be strong this coming year” (193). Being a woman is most difficult in life. For Elisa, being treated as the complete opposite of how she wishes to be treated is what...
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