The need to protect usually brings strength in many people, although sometimes overdoing yourself can bring weakness. The protection and values are strong symbols in both short stories. “The Chrysanthemums” is cleverly titled, as the flower is used to symbolize herself and her values, so her need to protect it is strong. Elisa’s flower portray all her hard work, all she strives for; her perfect goal. When she saw her flowers on the side of the road, she felt a piece of her had shattered. Ian had become the item of value and protection in “Touching Bottom”, when she let him go she tried her hardest, pushed harder than she had been pushing, to save him. She found “no time to breathe, no need to breathe.” She allows Ian to claw at her legs, shares her protection of a towel with him when she reaches the shore, and she cradles him and loves him. The flowers and the child are both strong symbols of value, the utimate goal to protect. The protection is relatively related to the changes brought in the story, as both changes were closely placed to the change. In “The Chrysanthemums” Elisa finds change after she changes her clothes, the dress being a symbol of change for herself. While wearing her roughed up gardening attire, she is a strong woman. As soon as Elisa changes into her fancy clothes, she literally changes her whole attitude. She seems as though she doesn’t know what to do with herself; while waiting for her husband she sits patiently on the porch. She changed from the strong woman in the beginning into a sad, little lady who was “crying weakly – like an old woman.” The change in ‘Touching Bottom” is quite contrary. There’s a realization that happens in the woman’s mind as she touches the bottom; she becomes a different, stronger woman. From the beginning of the story we find her to be a weak and fearful woman who is trying to achieve a goal of being an excellent swimmer, and once she touches the bottom, she tries harder, thinks more, and becomes more...
...Analysis of Character and Setting: "The Chrysanthemums"
John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums" shows the true feelings of the main character, Elisa Allen, through the use of setting and her interactions with other characters in the story. By way of vivid descriptions, Elisa's feelings of dissatisfaction over the lack of excitement in her life are portrayed. Her role as a mere housewife and then the subsequent change to feelings of a self-assured woman are clearly seen. These inner feelings are most apparent with the portrayal of Elisa working in the garden with the chrysanthemums, the conversation she has with the man passing through, and finally, when she and her husband are going out to dinner.
Steinbeck's strong and somewhat manly description of Elisa while working in the garden, gives the distinct impression that she is not as weak as a stereotypical housewife would be. He writes that "Her face was lean and strong and her eyes were as clear as water. Her figure looked blocked and heavy in her gardening costume, a man's black hat pulled low down over her eyes, clodhopper shoes, a figured print dress almost completely covered by a big corduroy apron with four big pockets to hold the snips, the trowel and scratcher, the seeds and the knife she worked with." As evidenced by this excerpt you can see that she has covered up her hair with a "man's hat" and has thrown an apron over her dress in attempts to cover up her...
English M0( FILL IN )
14 October 2014
Set deep within the Salinas Valley, John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums” momentarily explores the life of Elisa Allen, a woman whose life is bound by the restrictions that society has placed upon her. Steinbeck is able to instill a sense of a fervent desire for equality and a sexual drive that almost consumes her as she struggles to come to terms with her social standing. The few pieces that allow Steinbeck to drive home this point is through the use of symbolism in the chrysanthemums, her clothing, the Salinas Valley, and the tinker. Through the use of symbolism, Steinbeck is able to effectively portray the struggles of women during an area where any idea of equality was simply scoffed at.
The chrysanthemums’ delicate nature coincides with Elisa Allen’s fragile self despite being called “strong” at times by her husband. The chrysanthemum, as a flower, is known to be a symbol of hope and optimism and is often used in the Japanese culture to represent perfection due to the flower’s nature of orderly folding as it blooms. Elisa’s feminine nature, delicate and caring perpetuates her boring life and ultimately restricts her from ever having any such meaning as her husband takes care of everything on the farm except for the garden. Elisa’s garden, so well taken care of that “No aphids were there, no sowbugs or...
In his 1933 letter to a friend, John Steinbeck talks about his newly composed short story “The Chrysanthemums”: “It is entirely different and is designed to strike without the reader’s knowledge” (qtd. in Segal 214). It has indeed achieved the effect: ever since its publication, critics and readers, who unanimously “feel that something profound has happened to him” (qtd. in Segal 214), try in each way to figure out under and between the lines the theme of the story. While generally interpreting the tale as one about a woman’s frustration, critics put forward different reasons to explain the “what” and the “how." Some critics relate the protagonist Elisa Allen’s discontent and loneliness to the fact that she has no children and therefore is thwarted in her motherhood; and others, perceiving that Elisa and her husband Henry’s relation lacks deep understanding and passion, suggest that sex-starvation is the cause of her sense of repression; still others treat the story as a tale of a bored middle-age housewife, believing that Elisa’s discontent is caused by her vague longing for illusive “romance” (Segal 214).
Undoubtedly these analyses help, in various degrees, shed light on the understanding of the tale. However, they haven’t exhausted the complexity of the theme yet. If we approach the story by a close reading, taking adequate notice of the images and symbols which Steinbeck has carefully woven into the story, we may...
18 March 2013
The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck was an amazing short story full of great imagery. With each different person, a different image appears as they read this story. The characters evoke a certain look to the reader, the scenery a certain color, and the interpretation of the book can be changed entirely on ones perception of what they’ve read. If this short story was to be turned into a film and I was the director there are a lot of things I may or may not do, and have gotten from the story that someone else did not.
I will be describing a certain scene and explain how and why I would direct my film. Focusing on an expert from the short story when Elisa goes up to her room to get ready for her night out with her husband and on until she see’s her chrysanthemum bulbs on the side of the road robbed of the pot.
Elisa stands tall and strong, she looks lean and maybe once an athlete. She is a tan, sun kissed woman from working out in the sun with her flowers. She examines her body and sucks in her stomach standing tall and pushing out her chest. She is a healthy looking woman with good-sized breasts and nice curves. She exudes a confidence in her self, and feels beautiful. She steps into her white porcelain freestanding bathtub and scrubs herself with pumice stone. Pumice being rough and strong, she scrubs until she is red almost as if she was...
...A Potential to be Noticed
Prompt: How do the Chrysanthemums resemble the role of women in society? What kind of symbols help show the overall theme?
Humans, just as flowers, can not fully live without sunlight, they can not develop without nourishment, and most of all, they can not flourish if life is constantly beating them down. Just as the Chrysanthemums fight to stay strong and powerful in the short story, “TheChrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck, the main character Emily tries to do the same. Both the setting and overall mood of the characters supports the comparison of Emily to her Chrysanthemums. She is faced with many obstacles such as her oblivious husband and her lack of exposure in the world. Steinbeck’s description of the gloomy setting symbolizes Elisa’s struggle to be noticed and his ignorant tone exemplifies the lack of understanding her husband has of her.
At the beginning of the story, Steinbeck introduces the setting by describing it as “cold and tender” with “no sunshine in the valley” (1). Not only does this description present an overall dreary mood, it represents Elisa’s hiddenness. With a “lid of fog” that covers her true talents and what she could bring to society. First, the chrysanthemums symbolize Elisa's children. She tends her garden and handles the chrysanthemums with love and care, just as she would handle her own children....
Elisa Allen’s life can be interpreted in different ways, but there seems to be one common theme, oppression. Controlled by her husband’s and society’s expectations, she is confined to her pitiful life as a farmer’s wife. Through detailed descriptions and symbolism, John Steinbeck, author of short story, “The Chrysanthemums,” a picture is painted of unattainable desires and hopelessness.
Cynthia Bily of Short Stories for Students compares Elisa Allen’s life to ecofeminism, the idea that “women and nature are dominated by men in similar ways, and that women’s connections to nature can be a source of strength,” (Bily) Men dominate women as they have always dominated the earth. If you have ever heard of the term, “rape the land” it bares similarity to ecofeminism and how Henry limits Elisa. He rapes her in such a way that prevents her from having a different life, holding her down and restraining her from the many opportunities that the world has to offer. But Elisa’s connection with her chrysanthemums isn’t necessarily representative of who she wants to be according to Bily, but rather her source of energy. Women have an innate, natural attachment to the nature, women are nurturers and Elisa has more of a connection with her garden than she does with the outside world. She lacks relationships it seems, the only person she comes in contact with her husband and...
Professor Robert Stambaugh
21 February 2012
Boundaries of a Powerful and Beautiful Woman
A short story written in 1938 by John Steinbeck named “The Chrysanthemums” has been known over the years in the entire world for being one of the most outstanding and significant stories in literature. Steinbeck created a magnificent story that captures the attention of readers immediately because of the meaning and features of it. The author created a special way to take the reader to an unreal, but easy to imagine world in which a woman, named Elisa Allen, is living uncomfortable and surrounded by several types of boundaries that do not let her be the real person and woman she is. Living in the close and small Salinas Valley, Elisa’s world is enclosed to the ranch in where she lives and by the garden fence that limits the house ground, and in which Elisa plants her precious chrysanthemums. Contrasting Elisa’s dark and limited world her husband Henry Allen and the thinker’s life are boundless and they are capable to do all they want to. Steinbeck clearly created a woman that has a difficult life in a time where male power society was predominant. All the boundaries that Elisa suffers in the story limit this woman from self-expressing and integrating to the society.
At the beginning of the story Steinbeck described Elisa as a beautiful and powerful woman, but that is dressed like a man and work hard in the garden which is...
...John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums”, is a story about a woman struggling with strong inner feelings of loneliness and isolation. Elisa Allen is initially portrayed as a woman who overcompensates and whose tasks are far exceeded by her abilities. She appears content with her life and adores tending to her garden. However, a tinker briefly enters her life and through his power of persuasion and manipulation provides Elisa with hopes of change and excitement. He gives her the much needed attention she is so desperately looking for. As the story continues we learn that these hopes are crushed as we unravel the betrayal the tinker has bestowed upon Elisa. He exploits her and takes advantage of her hunger for company, aspirations, and vulnerabilities. We are left with sympathy for a woman who longs for another life, but will never possess it. Elisa’s inner feelings of loneliness are most apparent with the vivid descriptions of Elisa’s appearance, the portrayal of her working in her garden, the conversation she has with the tinker, and her dinner date with her husband.
When we first meet Elisa cultivating her beloved garden, she is introduced as possessing masculine like features, “her face was eager and mature and handsome” (Steinbeck 348). Steinbeck’s strong and somewhat masculine description of Elisa’s appearance is vastly different than that of a typical woman. While woman stand out and gain attention for their femininity, Elisa is hidden behind masculine...