White Elephants vs Chrysanthemums

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Julia Keller

December 16, 2012

Period 2

The two short stories, The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck and Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway are similar in many ways, and are also different in several ways. Though the settings and plots vary, both are sufficient in capturing the importance of women. To begin, both stories take place in the early twentieth century, around 1930. The work of Hemingway takes place in Spain near the river Ebro, and Steinbeck’s takes place in Salinas Valley, an agricultural region of California. In this time period, women were not looked upon as equals, though we did have some rights. The main characters in these stories are both women, similar in age and personality. In Hills Like White Elephants, she is referred to as Jig, and in The Chrysanthemums, the girl’s name is Elisa. However, both are treated much differently by the people around them, and they find themselves in different stressful situations. Jig is pregnant, and her American boyfriend whose name isn’t mentioned is trying to convince her to have an abortion. She finally agrees to at the end, saying “Then I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about me.” At the same time, Elisa wants to be recognised as a woman, while her husband just sees her as a workface. After a visit from a Tinkerman, she feels wanted, appreciated, and strong. However, a short time later she notices that the seeds she presented to him had been thrown out, and the man was simply trying to get work off of her. She feels despair as she realises that he didn’t mean any of the things he said. The authors of these stories both write about the time periods they live in. I found it interesting how, though both are men, they capture and write experiences from a woman’s point of view. I especially love the way that Steinbeck describes Elisa. “Her face was lean and strong and her eyes were as clear as water. Her figure looked blocked and heavy in her gardening costume, a man's black...
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