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John Steinbeck The Chrysanthemums - Research Paper Example

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The paper analyses the story "The Chrysanthemums". Steinbeck’s "The Chrysanthemums" was written at a time when the society was increasingly becoming aware of the plight of the working class, the downtrodden and oppressed members of society. …
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John Steinbeck The Chrysanthemums
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Download file to see previous pages . Steinbeck’s short story, therefore, sought to prove that he, as well as other members of the society had an understanding of the difficulties encountered by such individuals, especially women whose plight had long been disregarded in favor of their male counterparts. In "The Chrysanthemums" Steinbeck seeks to show how women became appreciative of their individuality, thus began seeking emancipation in every aspects of their lives, particularly in their marriages. Steinbeck’s short story encompasses realistic dialogues, sympathetic assessments of characters and nerve-racking dramas that follow the story of Elisa and her struggles to assert her individuality in a society that required women to conform to their husbands’ desires. In John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums” Elisa shows a glimpse of her inner self that reveals her desire to live a fulfilled life.
Throughout Steinbeck’s short story, “The Chrysanthemums” Elisa Allen is portrayed as a lonely woman who finds enjoyment in looking after her chrysanthemum in Salinas, California. However, in spite of the beauty that surrounds her in the beautiful valley, Elisa still feels cut off from the rest of the world. Elisa’s isolation from the world is further heightened by her frustration with her marriage to Henry. This pushes her closer to her garden in which she finds solace by connecting with her flowers. (Higdon 59). Both Elisa and her husband suffer from conflict avoidance and continually withdraw with one another on various levels, including intellectually and spiritually, perhaps even physically. While Elisa withdraws to her hard-swept house and immaculate flower garden and Henry to his tractor shed and his shaggy-coated steer. Elisa grapples with difficulties asserting her true self and it is only in her garden that she feels she is her truest self; she considers herself one with nature and constantly desires to be outside, particularly at night (Skredsvig 60). Steinbeck uses the fights and Elisa’s flowers as symbols that demonstrate her inner battle with her need to prove herself on one hand and the instilled repression prevalent in her life from both herself and the society, on the other hand. These symbols are essential to the plot since they portray Elisa both as a fighter and as a wilting flower; however, the chrysanthemums are more dominant symbol; thus indicating Elisa’s overall strength to assert herself as a confident individual (Palmerino 164). The flowers delineate Elisa’s inner longings as she feels the unconscious desire to demonstrate her usefulness in more meaningful ways than the undemanding farming life she leads can allow. The inadequate outlets through which Elisa can demonstrate her womanly and humanly affections are evident in her daily chores and interactions with other people in the story. These inadequacies typify Elisa’s needs for self-expression and fulfillment in a life, which she considers as inadequate. Steinbeck skillful brings to light the universal dilemma of women in Elisa’s society through the depiction of a markedly simple life or existence (Price 1). The climax of the story takes place when the need for self-recognition and assuredness becomes evident in Elisa’s reaction to a peddler, a traveling salesman looking for business. The peddler’s search led to Elisa’s farm, and when he inquires about her flowers, the takes advantage of the opportunity to typify her area of expertise (Palmerino 164). She explains to the peddler the nature of delicate care required in the care of the flowers, and it is only when the peddler demonstrates his appreciation for Elisa’s art that she reciprocates by showing some degree of fascination in his craft. Elisa’s fascination in the peddler’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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