Breaking Free - The Chrysanthemums This is a character breakdown and analysis of Elisa Allen. This discusses the symbolism of the chrysanthemum garden and her repression.

Essay by jen0926College, Undergraduate June 2002

download word file, 5 pages 3.5

Downloaded 370 times

Jennifer Bowman

Professor Chambers

English 1302

6 June 2002

Breaking Free

Throughout history, women have been portrayed as the weaker sex. As a result of these unfair social assumptions, women have been working hard to dissociate themselves from this stereotype and become more independent with their lives. Many prominent writers have addressed this matter in their stories. John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums" is one of those famous stories that deal with the feminist issue. The story describes Elisa Allen's frustration with her marriage, her sense of isolation from the world and her hidden desires to express herself as a woman, to explore her sexuality and live a more passionate life.

The setting plays a significant role in the story. It reinforces Elisa's feelings of isolation from the world. The tale is set in the beautiful valley of Salinas, California, but with all its beauty, this location takes on the role of some sort of prison in which one could feel trapped.

"The high grey-flannel fog of winter closed off the Salinas Valley from the sky and from all the rest of the world. On every side it sat like a lid on the mountains and made of the great valley a closed pot" (378). We can appreciate how this atmosphere could have a negative effect on a person. Another part of the setting that plays an equally important roll is the fence that surrounds Elisa's garden from her husband and the rest of the world. "[Henry] leaned over the wire fence that protected her flower garden from cattle and dogs and chickens" (379). These animals represent Henry's world while the garden represents hers. Henry always approaches the fence calmly and carefully never wanting to disrupt his wife's universe. On the other hand, when the tinker makes a visit, he...