Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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Chrysanthemums are different from ordinary flowers. They are not as delicate as other flowers, they do not smell as good as other flowers and, in addition, they are not as beautiful as other flowers. People often compare themselves, especially women, to flowers, and, when they do so, they generally choose flowers which correspond to the traditional view of women. The flowers chosen are usually delicate, exotic. Certainly not something as rough and as "ugly" as chrysanthemums. In John Steinbeck's short story "Chrysanthemums", these non-delicate, non-exotic flowers are chosen as a floral emblem for Elisa Allen, the main character because of their striking resemblance in beauty, in physical strength and in social situation. Thus, in other words, these flowers represent Elisa as a person.

Elisa Allen strikingly resembles chrysanthemums. As the latter differs from other flowers, Elisa differs from other women. Both the chrysanthemums and Elisa have their own looks.

Chrysanthemums, compared to other flowers, are rather ugly but to some people, like Elisa, they can be very charming because of the excess of energy used to over-bloom them. Elisa, as well, would not be described as being beautiful but rather "handsome" as she resembles a "man". This demonstrates that deep down she does have a certain kind of beauty just like the chrysanthemums. As she approaches her forties, Elisa is also approaching the autumn part of her life just like the chrysanthemums, which are known to be autumnal flowers. These autumnal flowers are obviously grown during the fall season and hence must have the physical strength to struggle with the temperature variation. As a woman, Elisa, as well, has a very remarkable physical strength as "her work with the scissors was over-eager, over-powerful"(Steinbeck, p.176). Elisa's physical strength is well shown throughout her "hard-swept looking little house with...