Struggle for Equality

Essay by StephenTerpHigh School, 12th gradeA, November 2014

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Terpstra 1

Stephen Terpstra

Ms. Lascos


October 6, 2014

The Struggle for Equality

The fight for equality has been a goal of society for several years, and "The Chrysanthemums" by John Steinbeck focuses on what life was like for women in the early 1930s. It follows Elisa, a woman who is held back from certain jobs and responsibilities because of her gender. Discrimination and gender roles can be seen throughout much of the story, whether they are physical or emotional examples. Due to the inequality displayed towards Elisa by men in the story, she strives to have the same roles as them.

Elisa Allen is hard at work in her garden as her husband, Henry Allen, is doing business in the distance. Henry approaches Elisa and complements her work. "'…I wish you'd work out in the orchard and raise some apples that big.'" (Steinbeck 114). While Henry expresses his wish for Elisa to work in the orchards, he does nothing about it because she is less than a man, very clearly displaying inequality.

In Victoria Prince's critical analysis of The Chrysanthemums, she states "Elisa seems enclosed inside the fence that keeps the animals from her garden. She feels emotionally enclosed as well. While Henry may love Elisa, he has little understanding of her needs as a woman" (Prince 2). Being a woman, Elisa is only permitted to work in her little section of the garden, and while she is physically fenced in, she feels emotionally trapped because of Henry's restrictions. Later on into the story, a "tinker" comes by her fence looking for directions. The man sticks around and begins to admire her work. "She was kneeling on the ground looking up at him" (Steinbeck 118). Elisa is showing submissive signs, and while it isn't a...