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How Does John Steinbeck Create Tension In The Chrysanthemums

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How Does John Steinbeck Create Tension In The Chrysanthemums
The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck

Often times, we go through life feeling confused, lost, and sad. Living life through various facades grows weary over time. Eventually, we are led to the inevitable search to strive for the discovery of who we really are. Self-identity is an important focal point in our individual triumphs and tribulations we experience in our journey of life. During times of conflict, we frequently struggle with only ourselves. "The Chrysanthemums" by John Steinbeck, written in the mid 1900's, is a downhearted story about a woman experiencing the pain of hiding who she really is. The story takes place in Salinas Valley, California. The atmosphere of Salinas is described as "the fog of winter...sat like a lid on the
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She enters the house to freshen up before going out to dinner with Henry. She puts on her finest outfit, "which was the symbol of her prettiness". This also, is a symbol of her femininity. Henry sees her and is stunned by her beauty and femininity. He says, "You look so nice!" She tenses up and asks for what he means by it, his definition of nice. He goes on to say, "I don't know. I mean you look different, strong and happy." She is eyes widely interested in this and asks "What do you mean 'strong'?". He is taken aback by her response. Henry was just trying to compliment her and she still would not allow him to enter her heart, almost as if he has offended her with his praise. As they continue their way to dinner, Elisa discovers something quite tragic to her. She sees her treasured chrysanthemums discarded on the side of the road as if a pile of unimportant garbage. She is distraught at the sight of them lying there mercilessly. She is brought to tears as she realizes that they surely mean nothing- symbolic to her self-worth. The repairman had only saved the pot, which was of far more value to him. The poor flowers are left to wilt and die, unable to survive on the side of the road. Sadly, that is such the case of her identity. She pulls up her coat collar to hide her tears, in which she cries; handling the situation with the weakness of a woman, rather than the strength of a male. Her strength has no match now. She will always be a female at the root no matter how strong it appears

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