Literary Analysis on Chrysanthemums

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Nessa Arr.
November 1, 2010
Literary Analysis of The Chrysanthemums
John Steinbeck’s 1937 story “The Chrysanthemums” depicts women as typical housewives back in the 1930’s only being allowed to cook, clean and mother. Elisa, who is the protagonist and the dynamic character in this story, is the typical women for this time period but rather than mothering, Elisa uses her need for power and strength in gardening. Gardening isn’t necessarily Elisa’s passion although in the story she claims she has “planter’s hands” and a “green thumb” for planting anything in rich soil, I feel as though it is an act. An act only because Elisa almost seems to make herself plant chrysanthemums because yes, she is good at it but if she didn’t plant the flowers then relatively speaking she would have nothing else to occupy herself with. Elisa expresses herself through her chrysanthemums. I feel Elisa expresses herself this way because the chrysanthemums she grows are big, beautiful and noticeable something she deep down inside is but just not in the eyes of her husband or any other man. For they see past what really matters and stick to the stereotypical women of the 1930s.

Furthermore, relating to Elisa is her age. Her age of thirty five is significant in “The chrysanthemums” because it shows how she needs passion and attention and that she has needs and wants that she desires to be fulfilled through intimacy but most likely won’t because her husband Henry. Henry, who is a slight antagonist and static character in this story, doesn’t seem to notice the intimate feelings that Elisa has. In attempt to make his wife content, Henry invites Elisa out that evening to dinner then a movie. Henry does indeed love his wife or else he wouldn’t try to help make her happy, but he doesn’t understand the kind of happy she wants. A simple marriage is what Henry and Elisa have together but it’s a relationship that’s barely being held together. Back in the time frame of this story it was common...
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