Character Analysis of Elisa Allen: "The Chrysanthemums"

Essay by singer85University, Bachelor'sA+, October 2008

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A life of Seeds and EmptinessThe Salinas Valley was quiet and undisturbed in the somber month of December. Across the river, Elisa Allen, a desolate housewife, tends to her cherished chrysanthemums, the one thing that she takes pride in or has meaning in her life. Elisa leads a life of emptiness and can only fulfill her desires through her beloved chrysanthemums. She lacks something so special, and covers her sorrows with rich dirt and soil with plants so beautiful within it.

As she would care for a child; something she obviously lacks in her life, Elisa brings motherly protection and comfort to her precious flowers. Aphids, snowbugs, snails and cutworms do not harm the chrysanthemums “her terrier fingers destroyed such pests before they could get started.” (233) Elisa protects her flowers from such evilness as a mother would protect her child from harm. And “with her trowel she turned the soil over and over and smoothed it and patted it firm.”(233)

suggesting that Elisa cares for the chrysanthemums as she would care for a child, as if tuck them into bed at night. Elisa guarded her flowers by “the wire fence that protected her flower garden from cattle and dogs and chickens.”(233) She keeps a safe place for her flowers so beasts cannot destroy them, guarding them as if they were her own offspring.

When a traveling tinker looking for work passes by her home, Elisa, at first, does not show interest. That is until he begins to take notice to her treasured flowers. When the tinker makes a first comment about Elisa’s flowers “the irritation and resistance melted from Elisa’s face.” She is beginning to become interested in the tinker because he has taken an interest in her flowers, which in doing so, takes interest in Elisa directly. The...