The Chrysanthemums

Essay by ALP24High School, 11th grade October 2014

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Angelou Palma 3/24/14 ENG 120The Chrysanthemums

"The Chrysanthemums" by John Steinbeck is a short story about a woman named Elisa and the events that follow after her encounter with a man known as the "Tinkerer". Steinbeck uses a third person point of view, narrated in the view of Elisa, to help the reader see the gender inequality of the time, Elisa's unhappiness, and to understand the longing and loneliness Elisa experiences.

Women during the period of "The Chrysanthemums" were locked in a role that placed them as unequal to men. In the beginning of the story, Elisa is described as "lean" and "strong" woman who had a talent with plants. Although eager to help when her husband, Henry, says "I wish you'd go out to the fields and raise apples that big", Henry ignores her willingness and does not even give her a reply. Instead, he asks her if she would like to go out of town, putting Elisa back in her place as a woman.

Also, when Elisa tells the Tinkerer he she admires his way of life, she is given the reply of "It's not a life for a woman," further showing Elisa that women were not equal footing with men. The point of view used helps the reader sympathize with Elisa and aids in helping see the inequality between the genders.

The third person point of view also aids in understanding Elisa's unhappiness. The interactions between Elisa and Henry are more of a friendship than those of a married couple. There is no affection shown between them and Elisa channels her frustration through her work in the garden. Seeing her chrysanthemums on the side of the road breaks her heart and seeing it through her point of view, intensifies the feeling the scene creates and...