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Elisa - Pure Or Not - Research Paper Example

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Glenn Campbell (2008) once said loneliness is “the most painful human experience, apart from physical pain itself.” It is this emotion more than any other that motivates the actions of Elisa Allen, the wife in John Steinbeck’s short story “Chrysanthemums.” As she…
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Elisa - Pure Or Not

Download file to see previous pages... nes, in which Elisa is “crying weakly – like an old woman.” Filled with pure intentions, Elisa’s actions as she tends her chrysanthemums, talks with the tinker and in her relationship with Henry are all the result of an overpowering sense of isolation and desperate need for a human connection.
Elisa’s isolation is quickly discovered as she works on her flower garden. In every way, she is enclosed – physically in her garden space, symbolically away from everyone else around. “The second noticeable aspect of Elisa Allen is her curiosity. Elisa sees the men talking to her husband and wonders what they are talking about” (Berry, 2007). The affection and tension given to her chrysanthemums indicates the need to connect and the frustration of no connection. Steinbeck tells us, “The chrysanthemum stems seemed too small and easy for her energy,” yet she has the nicest flowers around. Symbolism also suggests isolation since even the weather creates a closed space: “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.”
Elisa’s extreme isolation is also seen as she desperately talks with the tinker, trying to stretch the connection of their conversation as long as she can. The tinker has only stopped at the ranch because he is lost, but she grabs at his feigned interest in her flowers as something to connect her with the outside world. As she kneels on the ground at the tinker’s feet, she seems to be begging for attention more than she is begging for sexual favors. She provides the tinker with some of her precious chrysanthemum shoots and she hurries to dress in “the dress which was the symbol of her prettiness. She worked carefully on her hair, penciled her eyebrows and rouged her lips.” These are behaviors that Louis Owens (1992) describes as manifestations of her wish to leave the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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