About the story

“The Chrysanthemums' is a short story by John Steinbeck which follows a woman named Elisa. Elisa is a woman who cares deeply about her garden in which she grows strong chrysanthemums every year. Throughout the story, it is seen she has a connection with the chrysanthemums they are on in the same. Following Elisa through the story it's also shown she struggles within herself she wants to be strong, and she believes women are able to do the same as men. The Chrysanthemums" can be read and understood by seeing these points; masculinity in women, representation of flowers, and the way women were seen to be gentle.

literay analysis

Throughout the story, we see that Elisa is strong and feminine at the same time. She cares about her image and she is strong without knowing it. Some examples of this are shown in the story such as, “She tore off the battered hat and shook out her dark pretty hair.” Underneath her torn up man's hat she has beautiful dark hair. The combination of the torn-up battered hat and her beautiful hair shows again she's masculine femininity to her character. As well a part in the story where she is staring at herself in the mirror, states, “When she had dried herself she stood in front of a mirror in her bedroom and looked at her body. She tightened her stomach and threw out her chest. She turned and looked over her shoulder at her back.” She's checking out her body. It seems like she is trying to flex her muscles like a man. She's trying to find her masculinity but it also is her caring about her feminine figure. Despite this Elisa still finds interest in womanly things like putting on makeup and wearing her best garments. We can still see that Elisa is still very much womanly. She throws on her prettiest dress and the nicest pair of stockings she has. She also takes her time to do her hair ever so carefully and throws some makeup on her face. She cares ever so delicately about herself as well and she still has the desire to be strong.

Why is this important?

When reading the story it had a lot of femenist approaches that could be intrepreted. Steinbeck uses chrysanthemums as symbols of the inner-self of Elisa and of every woman. We can see how Elisas' inner-self is potrayed in the story, such as her taking care and being over protective of her flowers, this can represent motherhood in the female eye. Another example is how feminity and masculinty are protrayed in women, they both coincide within Elisa, and she stuggle through the story to accept that both are okay for her. An example is when her husband Henery tell her, "I wish you'd work out in the orchard and raise some apples that big". Henry's couldn't understand Elisa's needs left her vulnerable and upset. :Ater she mets a tinker with the introduction of the tinker it renews Elisa's feelings of femininity and sexuality as a woman. Throughout the story we see how Elisas' charter grows to a more confident version of herself she starts to except and see a more fufilling tole in her life. This is until the end of the story when her and her husband are going out for dinner and she see her flowers thrown on the road, she then realizes that her life shall remain the same way constiently. This a case for many women, and for this reason many women strive to better themselves in their life.