In John Steinbeck's short story "The Chrysanthemums," the setting plays a significant role in conveying the protagonist Elisa's emotional and psychological state. Specifically, her gardening costume, which includes a man's black hat, clod-hopper shoes, a big corduroy apron, and heavy leather gloves, serves as a symbol of her desire to hide her femininity and present herself in a more masculine manner.
As Steinbeck describes, Elisa's choice of clothing suggests that she is deliberately masking her femininity and presenting herself in a more masculine way. The man's black hat pulled low down over her eyes and the heavy leather gloves protect her from the sun and soil but also obscure her face and hands, which are often considered traditionally …show more content…
This could be interpreted as a reflection of the limited opportunities available to women during the time period in which the story is set, as well as the societal expectations placed upon them. Women during this era were expected to prioritize domestic tasks and raise children, while men were seen as the primary providers and decision-makers.
By dressing in masculine clothing and engaging in outdoor manual labor, Elisa may be trying to assert her independence and challenge traditional gender roles. The heavy leather gloves that she wears while working also serve as a symbol of protection, both from the physical elements of her work and from the emotional vulnerability that comes with being a woman in a patriarchal society.
However, while Elisa may feel empowered by her ability to cultivate a beautiful garden, her sense of fulfillment is ultimately fleeting. When a stranger arrives and expresses an interest in the chrysanthemums that Elisa has carefully nurtured, she becomes invested in the possibility of sharing her passion with someone else. This desire for connection and recognition highlights the loneliness and isolation that she experiences as a woman who is unable to fulfill her
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The beginning of the short story introduces Elisa Allen in an exposition that defines her as independent, as she dresses in men’s attire to not display her female physique, thus denying her gender. With her farming materials , Elisa dominantly cuts the chrysanthemums, a phallic symbol meant to represent her power over men. Elisa is talented, smart, and ambitious, but all these attributes go to waste because she is a women. Although the two men in the story are not on the same intellectual level as she is, their lives are far more attractive and busy. All Elisa can do
John Steinbeck short stories, The Chrysanthemums and The Turtle, (Chapter three - grapes of wrath) both clearly demonstrate the theme of isolation throughout the story. “The Chrysanthemums” tells of isolation that Elisa Allen, and on a larger scale, women in general, struggle through. This short story provides many indications of this with the use of the setting, and detailed descriptions of Elisa Allen. The inability to voice their own opinions causes Elisa to divulge in another means of expression, her chrysanthemums. In the Turtle, John Steinbeck shows that the little by little the turtle becomes desolated by everything that happens to it.
Elisa’s life was quiet and peaceful, where the air around her “ was cold and tender”(Steinbeck 1). At the beginning of the story the overall tone is depressing because Elisa is in a position where she feels like she is being oppressed by her husband and the society. She is stuck in the constant cycle of living a life that she feels like does not suit her capabilities. “Her face was tight with eagerness’ as she began to tell the tinker loads about her Chrysanthemums(Steinbeck 6). After meeting the traveler and after a while of talking, she begins to feel happiness in her life again.
Further supporting Henry’s expectations, the way Elisa dresses while she gardens, downplays her femininity. As Elisa is busy working in the fields, her hair gets in her way and she moves it to the side. In the process she “left a smudge of earth on her cheek” (1). Having dirt on her face did not concern her, and so she did not take time to remove it. In Elisa’s mind, tending her garden allows her to find inner happiness amongst her chrysanthemums.
When gender is brought up Elisa often caves into stereotypes, for example she doesn’t like fights. However, the chrysanthemums give her hope and strength to continue moving forward and growing as a person in ways that would not be possible if the flowers were not a constant figure. Being a female in a male-orientated environment she is often plagued by insecurities. For example when Henry, her husband, says “Why--why, Elisa. You look so nice!”
Colorless Chrysanthemum “The Chrysanthemums” is a short story by John Steinbeck that is about a woman named Elisa, a woman who spends all of her time gardening her prized chrysanthemums; these prized chrysanthemums symbolize Elisa’s role as a woman. Steinbeck shows this role as a woman in several way; the chrysanthemums first symbolize Elisa’s maternal instinct, and her want for children, the chrysanthemums then symbolize Elisa’s sexuality and then her femininity. The chrysanthemums first symbolize Elisa’s natural maternal instinct, and her want for children. Elisa is thirty-five year old woman, and while it is still possible for a woman of her age to become pregnant, it is quite a bit harder, with a tendency for more complications.
It surmises that women have much more control of their dreams and hopes than men do. Because the author began this novel with this gender difference the audience can assume that this will later become an important theme, especially with the main character Janie. The protagonist, Janie is characterized as looking very youthful effectively stating that the only way Janie was to be with a younger man was either for her money or looks. Yet, in reality this is not the case but it showcases the archaic mentality of the superiority of men especially in this society. Pearl states that “[her] husband ain’t fussy” but in reality women were considered property in this time period.
The Chrysanthemums Literary Analysis One of the themes of “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck is gender inequality. In this short story, the main character Elisa Allen was a strong, smart woman who was stuck being a common housewife. Elisa wishes she could go out and be like the tinker, sleeping under the stars and adventuring every day of her life. Elisa’s husband owns a ranch of some sorts, and when he tells Elisa of the business deal he’d just made he gave her an unspecific explanation, or a dumbed down one so he doesn’t “confuse her”.
In John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums," the protagonist, Elisa Allen, undergoes a transformative journey of self-discovery and revelation. Through Steinbeck's skillful use of symbolism and imagery, he masterfully prepares us for the pivotal moment when Elisa's enlightenment occurs. The nature of her realization is one of recognition of her suppressed desires and the limitations imposed on her by society. This profound revelation profoundly impacts Elisa, leading her to confront her own longing for fulfillment and an awakened sense of self. In this essay, we will explore how Steinbeck sets the stage for Elisa's moment of enlightenment, the nature of her revelation, and its profound effect on her character.
What is a metaphor? A metaphor is a figure of speech where a comparison is made between two things based on similarity. Metaphors are widely used in literature today and are very important. They can create powerful and lasting images and ideas. Metaphors make the images described by the author more creative and interesting.
World of Sexism Due to the Great Depression, women’s rights took a back seat to employment and poverty. It was believed that women shouldn’t work but stay at home, clean, cook, and raise their children. The prejudice against women in the society was great back in the 1930s for they were degraded and underestimated. All the rights they had gained in the 1920s were neglected and the women were once again maltreated. In Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, the victim of sexism is Curley’s wife who is so insignifact that even a name was not provided for her.
In the beginning of the story, she is first shown working in her flower garden with a hat that covers her hair completely, clothing that hid her body, clodhopper shoes, and gloves, and her masculinity side is expressed during this time. Her face is described as “eager and mature and handsome” which is related back to her masculinity side (Steinbeck 1). When she brushes her hair out of her face, she smudges a piece of earth on her cheek, takes her gloves off and puts her strong fingers in the ground, and says she can grow anything that symbolizes her nature side. Her flowers, specifically her chrysanthemums, symbolizes her children she can not conceive or carry to full term. She is 35 years old and married yet does not have children in the 1930s.
Masculine and Feminine Roles in Steinbeck’s “Chrysanthemums” In the story “The Chrysanthemums”, by John Steinbeck, Elisa Allen lives an unsatisfactory life as she desires more than what is bestowed upon her. The reader learns Elisa’s husband is culpable for not seeing the beauty of his wife, leaving an open door for the antagonist, a traveler, to prey upon Elisa’s. Steinbeck uses Masculine and Feminine roles of the early 20th century, Internal Conflict, and an antagonist, to show Elisa’s struggle for Identity. Steinbeck illustrates Masculine and feminine roles of the 20th century in the “Chrysanthemums” to show Elisa’s struggle with identity.
The fog that covered the valley represented the limitation of women’s power and voice. Although Steinbeck created the story when women’s rights were allowed, they were still treated unequally. In “The Chrysanthemums”, Elisa had multiple opportunities to stand up for herself against the tinker, but was not able to execute it successfully. This restraint in her life, made her become a coward and eventually spiral out of control due to the lack of self-expression. Although Elisa’s setting was located on an open farm, she was confined to only her garden and home.
The very act of cross-dressing itself was subversive, especially in Spain where costume was hugely important, not just on stage but in real life. Literary critic William Egginton notes in An Epistemology of the Stage, that when it came to costume the "Spanish public was extremely sensitive to such signifiers of class and could not, for example, tolerate or comprehend a scene in which the signs of social status presented by costume and speech would conflict". (402) With the audience so sensitive to costume details, what must they have thought about Rosaura 's male attire? Women dressing as men was a common device used by playwrights in the Golden Age (mujer vestida de hombre ) and one wonders was it merely because it was practical?