Characters Reactions to Situations

Topics: John Steinbeck, Library of America, Salinas Valley Pages: 3 (1168 words) Published: November 8, 2008
As Henry James sees it, characters are only as interesting as their responses to particular situations. This is true not only in any piece of literature with a character but also in life. I following text is my exploration into characters and their reactions to situations in John Steinbeck’s, "The Chrysanthemums" and John Cheever’s, "The Five-Forty-Eight". Characters in both of these stories are full of passion and come alive in the text as you read them. It is this resurrection of the text to full life in your mind’s eye that is at the core why people like to read! In John Steinbeck’s, "The Chrysanthemums" we find husband and wife Henry and Elisa Allen as the main characters. Henry and Elisa live a peaceful stationary life on their farm in the Salinas Valley in California. Henry spends his days tending to his orchard and steers while Elisa is busy with housekeeping and cultivating her flower garden. Elisa is 35 years old and cultivates chrysanthemums in her garden with strong determination and passion. She is described as being full of energy and quite possibly too much unexpressed energy. Elisa is feeling stuck in her life and she feels Henry is not appreciating her as much as she would like. She would like Henry to not only appreciate her passion for her Chrysanthemums but also have more intimacy in the marriage as seems plausible while reading paragraphs six through 14. In a private moment for Elisa ,while Henry is pre-occupied with the gentlemen by the tractor shed, she takes her gloves off and has somewhat of an intimate moment with her flowers. Henry subsequently sneaks up on Elisa and immediately her gloves go back on as if she got caught and needed to cover something up. Elisa appears to have enjoyed this private moment because while she could see Henry and the other Men, they could not possibly see her strong naked fingers going down into the forest of new sprouts and spreading the needy leaves. We also see references to ten inch...

Cited: Cheever, John. The Five-Forty-Eight, USA, Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, 1978.
Steinbeck, John. The Chrysanthemums, USA: Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Group Inc., 1965.
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