Women In The Chrysanthemums

1328 Words6 Pages
"The Chrysanthemums" revolves around a female character that tends to a garden on a farm with her husband. We soon learn that she is not as happy as she is perceived and that she is not as respected as she would like to be. Elisa is introduced as a strong woman when she is gardening but as the story progresses, we see that her strength is not truly real. Elisa lives in a world where she is secluded and deprived of freedoms due to a society that believes women should play passive roles. As the story develops so does Elisa 's struggle to find her strength and a stronger presence in society. Elisa 's interaction with the men in the story illustrates the strength of her character and an attempt to demand respect in a society that views women…show more content…
As the story continues, Elisa becomes more guarded and seems more determined to assert her place in society. After the conversation with her husband, the man in the wagon approaches her and they have an odd interaction. The man makes Elisa aware that he can fix anything and even sharpen scissors. Since Elisa is big on gardening, she uses her scissors a lot. The idea of the man sharpening her scissors for her triggers something inside her and she tenses up. "I mend pots and sharpen knives and scissors. You got any of them things to do? ' 'oh, no, ' she said quickly 'nothing like that. ' Her eyes hardened with resistance" (Kennedy and Gioia 234). Elisa is aware that her role in society is supposed to be passive and because of this she only has a few passions. One of the most important things for Elisa is her garden of chrysanthemums. Elisa sees the garden as a pride and joy especially because the chrysanthemums are harder to grow. The fact that she is able to have a garden like that makes her feel important and gives her a sense of power and control. From the interaction with her husband, it is clear that Elisa is aware of her minimal role and of the freedoms she lacks so to her the garden is the biggest thing she has. When the salesman tries to sharpen her scissors, Elisa takes it as a threat because that is the one area in her life that she is good at and that she has control over. She feels less important once again and is resistant because her power is being…show more content…
Elisa 's struggle continues as her night goes on. After Elisa is done getting ready for her night out with her husband she is offended when he says "you look nice! 'nice? You think I look nice? What do you mean by 'nice ' Henry blundered on. 'I don 't know. I mean you look different, strong and happy ' 'I am strong? Yes, strong. What do you mean 'strong?" (Kennedy and Gioia 238). The moment that Elisa feels her power and validity is being threatened she puts her guard up. When Henry told her she looked nice it came across as him trying to minimize her and keep her in the place society has put her in. She needed to hear him call her strong to validate to him and herself that she is more than society makes her out to be. Elisa wants to feel strong because she knows deep down that she is not as strong as she imagines herself to be. Even after she convinces herself she is strong she still hesitates a bit because she questions what strong truly means, once again confirming that she really is not strong. As they are on their way into town, Elisa sees the chrysanthemums she gave to the salesman on the side of the road. She is automatically extremely upset, and the story takes a negative turn as she begins to truly show her emotions and how she feels about herself. "She turned up her coat collar so he could not see that she was crying weakly - like an old woman" (Kennedy and Gioia 239). When the story began Elisa was described in a way that gave the impression that she
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