Date: The Theme of ‘The Chrysanthemums’ Introduction The theme of John Steinback’s ‘The Chrysanthemums’ revolves around gender inequality prevalent during the 1930s, the time period in which Steinback sets his story…
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Steinback explores the feminist approach in this short story. Summary of ‘The Chrysanthemums’ Steinback weaves a tale of a passionate woman, Elisa who lives in a male-dominated society. Elisa Allen lives with her husband in her ranch and is his helping hand. Elisa is shown as women more intelligent than her husband but being a woman, she cannot hope to become her husband’s equal. Elisa’s intelligence is matched with her passion towards the ranch, especially towards the Chrysanthemums that she plants. But even with all her intelligence and passion, she cannot guide her husband to improve upon the ranch. Her husband generally ignores her passions and treats her more like a sibling or a friend. Another man enters Elisa’s world, the tinker. The tinker is a person who has travelled much and matches Elisa’s intelligence. He woos her by complimenting on her Chrysanthemums and Elisa becomes attracted towards him. His attention towards Elisa, even though is proved false in the end, makes Elisa aware of her own sexuality as she watches her naked reflection in the mirror after the tinker leaves (Steinback, 1995). However, Elisa is brought back to the realities of the male-dominated world when she finds that the tinker threw away the Chrysanthemums, she offered as a gift, after leaving the ranch. Theme of ‘The Chrysanthemums’ Gender Inequality is the main theme of the book and other themes are secondary to this theme and help support the actual theme. The book is set in the 1930s when males were given the ruling hand just because they were male. Females, on the other hand, were expected to be subservient and their use in the home was to help the husband. Steinback, uses this novel to point out the prevailing gender inequality at that time. Even though Elisa was more passionate about the ranch and had the aptitude to growing beautiful Chrysanthemums, she was not able to guide her husband towards any improvement in the ranch. Even if she provided any suggestions, they were merely ignored by her husband. This was either because he did not expect her to come up with good suggestions or because he was not interested in making any changes. It is not just Elisa’s husband who gets to lead his life his own way but also the tinker who visits the ranch. The tinker lives an adventurous life, a life that Elisa envies because he gets to see the whole world and the beautiful flowers within while Elisa is only confined to the ranch. She cannot leave the ranch because females at that time were not allowed to leave her homes on such adventurous journeys without their husband. In the case of Elisa, her husband would not have been interested. Thus, Elisa is forced to live her life according to the wishes of her husband, while it is obvious there is so much more that she could with her life. Another theme in the short story is the sexual fulfillment of females. The society during that time was constructed on ideals that were not ideal for the females. Sexual fulfillment was only considered the right of the males while females were just necessary partners in the activity. It is clear that the relationship between Elisa and her husband is more fraternal instead of a husband wife relationship. The arrival of the tinker in the ranch awakens sexual feelings within Elisa and Steinback here makes a point that women are as likely to have sexual feelings as men; and that sexual feelings are so powerful that they make people behave in foolish ways. The passionate and robust nature of Elisa hints at a sexual person
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John Steinbeck’s critically acclaimed short story, “The Chrysanthemums”, reports an incident in the life of a farmer’s wife, Elisa Allen. But in doing so, this short story makes a subtle commentary on gender roles and repressed sexuality through the brief but intricate network of symbols and themes it builds up.
At first glance we can think that Elisa is satisfied with the life she is leading. However, deep down in her soul Elisa is restless, because she feels unloved and unappreciated. She longs for attention as a sexual being and not as a working object, the way her husband perceives her.
She is isolated from the world, she feels frustrated with her marriage and she wants nothing more than a sense of connection to the world outside her garden gate, illustrating the general sentiment of women everywhere who were frustrated in their attempts to connect with the greater world.
According to the research findings the symbol of chrysanthemums in Steinbeck’s story is rich in associations and significations. Firstly, they denote the geographic setting of Salinas by contributing to a sunny and yellowy imagery. Nevertheless, this imagery lacks warmth. Secondly, the chrysanthemums signify the time frame of the story and the time frame of the female protagonist.
The flower puts equal sized smile on the person as its own size. As the spring wagon chariot denotes them as ""Kind of a long-stemmed flower Looks like a quick puff of colored smoke"
Now this short story has a main character in the name of Elisa Allen. She is personally attached to "The Chrysanthemums" and has an inherent (she calls it planting hands) skill and inclination toward gardening and holds a philosophy towards her work.
The predominant theme in both stories is suppression, and the subsequent wilting of the female protagonists under the strictures of a rigid society. Towards the end we also realize their inner pain and their need for adventure and an identity independent of their husbands.
4). At the same time, Elisa has to live inside the fence as the society assigns the role of a wife and a mother to her. She has to make the house perfect for her husband. She only leaves her garden when she
The author utilizes figurative language for instance “… black earth shining like metal…” (239).The author utilizes this to describe a given occurrence. The author breaks the monotony of narration with dialogue. His style