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Pure in Need: John Steinbeck's short story Chrysanthemums - Essay Example

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John Steinbeck captures the sense of the constrained woman and her sense of isolation in his short story "Chrysanthemums." Elisa Allen, the main protagonist, is a very lonely and depressed woman. …
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Pure in Need: John Steinbecks short story Chrysanthemums
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Every element of the story highlights this deeper meaning, only ending as Elisa is “crying weakly – like an old woman.” Filled with pure intentions but a need to play a part in life, Elisa’s actions as she tends her chrysanthemums, talks with the tinker and in her relationship with Henry all emphasize her overpowering sense of isolation and desperate need for a larger world. In every way, Elisa is enclosed throughout the story. This is seen physically as she works in her garden space which is symbolically place away from everyone else around. Although dedicated to her garden, Elisa constantly wonders what the men with her husband are talking about not far away. The affection she gives to her flowers demonstrates how much she has to give to others while the tension in her hands as she snaps off flower heads shows her frustration at being excluded and set apart. Steinbeck says, “The chrysanthemum stems seemed too small and easy for her energy,” but her flowers are the nicest flowers around. Even the weather confines her: “The high grey-flannel fog of winter closed off the [valley] from the sky and 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.” Like other women of her time, women were expected to make themselves happy only within the home space, but Elisa continues to show that the home is not enough. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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