Steinbeck Gender Roles

765 Words4 Pages
Throughout the short story we see an overarching theme of oppression of women for equality because of defined gender roles that society uses to categorize women and men. John Steinbeck does a magnificent job in portraying the characters in different ways that allows them to share different qualities. For example, we see the protagonist Elisa Allen introduced as a wife of a rancher who is strong. The author describes her as a great gardener who loves to garden chrysanthemums that seem to symbolize the mind of Elisa. When we first meet her John Steinbeck introduces her wearing men’s clothing as he states, “Her figure looked blocked and heavy in her gardening costume, a man 'sblack hat pulled low down over her eyes, clod-hopper shoes, a figured…show more content…
However, for Elia Tinker is what she desires which is her sexuality, freedom and ability to wander. As a reader we can notice that the masculinity of Elisa was starting to come to an end when Elisa was giving the flowers to Tinker as Steinbeck writes, “The gloves were forgotten now” (Steinbeck, 104). But it also evident that Elisa enjoys Tinkers accompanies showing her sexual desires. Tinkers arrival sparked her desire where on page 205, Elisa is seen controlling herself from touching Tinker. In other words, this clearly describes the change in Elisa from the beginning that was described as strong and masculine to weak and frustrated women displaying her feminine emotions. Tinker is also a clever man who uses Elisa for his advantage, where on the other hand Elisa finds his lifestyle to be interesting. But when Elisa desires to have this lifestyle Tinker reminds Elisa of her gender as he states, “It ain’t the right kind of a life for a woman” (Steinbeck, 805). This line by Tinker underlines once again that women are weak and aren’t powerful enough to face isolation out at night. Towards, the end of the short story Steinbeck beautiful describes Elisa’s realization that equality cannot be achieved and it is just an illusion that is controlled by men. When the author writes, “And then she scrubbed herself until with a little block of pumice….chest and arms until her skin was scratched and red” (Steinbeck 806) reveals that Elisa is returning to the feminine world that she belong to as Steinbeck describes her chest, her dress, stockings, and makeup. As a result, when Henry sees Elisa like this he calls her “nice” showing his joy of seeing her as woman. In conclusion, it is evident that Elisa’s desire to flee the inequality of gender roles in society but struggles her way out as she discovers that she must accept her
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