The Strength to Resist
In a short story “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck, the author makes use of literary devices such as symbolism, characterization and setting to develop and bring out the theme. The author reveals the topic of temptation by exposing the Garden of Eden to the reader, as he explores the in depth the nature of sin. Steinbeck managed to expand the story of Adam and Eve to a far more relatable setting and time period. A crucial theme in this story is that temptation will always be present in one’s life, despite all the ways people try to guard themselves against it. However, when a person is tested by God, one will always have free will to choose between surrendering to temptation or finding the inner strength to resist it. Such theme revolves around the fall of man – the transition from a state of innocence and purity to a state of knowledge and shame from guilty disobedience to God. In this story, such transformation is visible within the main character – Elisa Allen. In the beginning, she is presented to the reader as a physically strong, masculine persona. “Her face was lean and strong and her eyes were clear as water…Her figure looked blocked and heavy” (Steinbeck 513). Elisa is wearing an androgynous gardening outfit, complete with heavy shoes and an apron filled with sharp, phallic implements. Steinbeck purposely describes her character as “mature” and “handsome”, suggesting her image to be manlike, strong and powerful. By contrast, the author mentions Elisa’s eyes to be “clear as water”, revealing to the reader her innocence and pureness. The man, on the other hand, is described as an intruder from the outside, giving the reader a negative vibe. “His eyes were dark and full of brooding” (515). He is believed to have an exciting life on the road as he is free to follow “nice weather”, but in reality his life...
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