What Is Elisa's Troubles In 'The Chrysanthemums'?

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In the short story “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck, the main character, Elisa faces many troubles. Elisa’s troubles and frustration arise from the 1930’s society’s discrimination of women during the time of the story. The struggle for equality for women leaves Elisa in conflict with herself. She falls victim to the belief that women should not stray from their role society has placed on them. Through Elisa’s interactions with the men in the story, we find many examples of how the repression of women is used as a barrier for Elisa to live her life how she wants.
Elisa’s troubles throughout the story revolve around how society’s discriminatory views of women during the time the story takes place hinder her ability to attain change and adventure in her life. Elisa is described as a thirty-five year old with a “block and heavy” figure who wore heavy gloves and shoes, and a “men’s black hat” (Steinbeck 1792). From the beginning, Elisa displays physical and emotional behavior similar to that of a man. Through her masculine nature, Elisa aims to obtain the same …show more content…

With a quick glance, Elisa saw her chrysanthemums she had given to the tinker lying weakly on the side of the road. The moment she saw the only thing she cared for thrown away so easily, she knew her attempt to be treated as an equal had failed. Elisa’s final sign of her abandonment of breaking free from the female stereotype are shown after she sees the chrysanthemum on the side of the road. Elisa asks Henry if women ever go to prize-fights. Henry responds saying, “Do you want to go? I don’t think you’d like it, but I’ll take you if you really want to go” (Steinbeck 1797). This is followed by Elisa’s defeated response; “Oh, no. No. I don’t want to go. I’m sure I don’t” (Steinbeck 1979). Due to her extreme hopelessness, Elisa puts down her masculine wall and begins to “cry weakly - like an old woman” (Steinbeck

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