John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums"- Elisa Allen's weaknesses

Essay by gurlnthecurl13High School, 11th gradeA, January 2007

download word file, 2 pages 3.0

Downloaded 52 times

In the short story "The Chrysanthemums", Steinbeck travels through a day in the life of the thirty five year old Elisa Allen, a modern house wife of the 1930's. Although, once we begin to read about Elisa, we come to find that she is far from the average house wife. Deep down, she has an inexpressible desire to be apart of the world outside of her garden, in the man's world. Through the detailed descriptions of John Steinbeck, Elisa is given unusually strong and weak qualities. Despite these qualities, Elisa is truly a weak woman.

One of the major weaknesses of Elisa Allen is her misconception that changing her physical appearances and mannerisms, to become more masculine, makes her appear stronger; when in actuality it emphasizes her true feelings of weakness. For example, when Elisa is gardening she wears a "costume", which includes: a man's hat, clodhopper shoes, a print dress that is covered by a large corduroy apron, and heavy leather gloves-all of which make her figure look "blocked and heavy".

Although Elisa feels that by dressing in this manly fashion she will be considered equal to men in a man's world, she is still seen by the men as just an average house wife. Another example of her attempts to hide her feminine qualities is while she is tending to her garden. Steinbeck describes Elisa as "over-eager" and "over-powerful" when she had control of the short and powerful scissors, and when she is seen destroying the aphids, sow bugs, snails, and cutworms of her garden with her terrier fingers. Clearly, Elisa is over-compensating, using more power than needed (or used by a female) to kill the pests living in her garden. Despite these masculine tendencies and actions, Elisa does not realize that she will never been seen...