The Chrysanthemums Patriarchal Analysis

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The Effects of Subconscious Patriarchal Repression in “The Chrysanthemums”
The story “The Chrysanthemums” is a piece by John Steinbeck in which the author uses a day in the life of an isolated, under-stimulated ranch wife to demonstrate the repressive and alienating effects of patriarchy. This woman, Elisa Allen, exists within an arbitrary role of homemaker, the opportunities of which are unequal to her vivacity and are indifferent to her inherent sensuality. The awakening of her untapped sexuality brings her to a personal crisis when a chance meeting with an eccentric, self-governing tinker opens her eyes to the expressive, autonomous, and sensuous lifestyle that the intrinsic restrictions of her gender role bar her from. She acknowledges …show more content…

This concept is symbolized in the fact that though Elisa raises her chrysanthemums out of pride and genuine appreciation of their beauty, her husband merely praises their basic quality and automatically urges her to re-allocate her efforts to a productive purpose, saying “I wish you’d work out in the orchards and raise some apples that big.” (Steinbeck 2). His unwillingness to appreciate the application of her “feminine” talent of gardening to create beauty and his intimation that only a lucrative fertility would be valued from her debases her womanhood to a mere execution of duty, undermining her worth and attractiveness as an individual. This theme is echoed symbolically in the fact that Henry and the tinker only approach her garden domain out of necessity; Henry to inform her in the most basic way and to dictate what they will do that evening, the tinker in hopes of targeting her as a domestic consumer and thereby coaxing her to provide him with means of sustenance (2, 4). The result of this is that it is ingrained in Elisa that the extent of the worth of her womanhood in society and at home is confined to her usefulness as a producer of low-level domestic assets and …show more content…

“The Chrysanthemums.” English 150: The Study of Literature. University of New Mexico, 2017, learn.unm.edu/XLSVXEY201710/thechrysanthemums.pdf. Accessed 13 Mar.

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