Gender Roles In John Steinbeck's 'The Chrysanthemums'

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Society can force people into roles, whether it be because of their gender or social status. In “The Chrysanthemums”, Elisa Allen, a young, intelligent woman, is confined to her neat, tidy little garden, where she spends all day planting flowers. She is forced to watch from afar as her husband makes all the business deals and provide for them. She is exceptionally skilled as a gardener, and her husband, Henry, tells her that she’s “got a gift with things”, and that he wishes she would “work out in the orchard and raise some apples” (Steinbeck). When she hears this suggestion, Elisa’s eyes sharpen, and she becomes interested, saying, “Maybe I could do it too. I’ve a gift with things, all right”, however, Henry simply dismisses her and the idea, saying, “Well, it sure works with flowers” (Steinbeck).…show more content…
Because she lives in a misogynistic society, even though she is intelligent and skilled, Elisa is forced into the life of a stay-at-home wife. Similarly, in “A Rose for Emily”, society forces Emily Grierson into the role of the perfect southern woman. She was born into a higher class, and spent her whole life being sheltered by her father. Because of her seclusion, she was a very lonely woman, and was not very close to anyone in the town. In fact, the town viewed her as “a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town”, not even recognizing her as a real person (Faulkner). Before Homer arrived at the town, Emily never married, or even dated, since her father turned away every potential suitor for not being good enough. This further increased her seclusion from the town, making it seem like Emily was above all of them, a monument to be looked up to. Due to her higher social status, Emily was forced into a life of solitude, not even being recognized as a
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