Inequality In John Steinbeck's 'The Chrysanthemums'

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As Gandhi once stated, “ Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacity… If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior… If non-violence is the law of our being, the future is with women” (Sinha), women should be viewed as stronger than men and should be treated as such because they will be the ones to create the future for humankind. In reality, women are still being treated as inferior no matter their societal position. In some cases, like in the third-world countries, women are forced into marriages, are confined to the homes, and are treated as mere objects and are to be used as such. John Steinbeck’s short story “The Chrysanthemums” recognizes the gender inequality in the early 1900s and…show more content…
The beginning of the description of the valley starts with,“On every side it sat like a lid on the mountains and made of the great valley a closed pot” (Steinbeck 1). The valley being called a “closed pot” gives the reader a clue that it is very confining and secluded from everything else. Also, with the valley being so secluded, the community is not in touch with the changes to women’s role in society. Steinbeck then goes on to say that, “...the yellow stubble fields seemed to be bathed in pale cold sunshine, but there was no sunshine in the valley now in December” (Steinbeck 1), which can mean that the valley seemed hopeless and gives more to the visual that it is a pot. When a pot is closed, no sunlight can get in, hence the no sunshine in the valley. On the other hand, the sunshine covering the hills outside the valley is the symbol of women’s hope of freedom from gender inequality that is just out of reach.. The darkness, in which Elisa lives, is the crushing reality that gender equality is a difficult feat to…show more content…
In this case the flowers represent Elisa’s sexuality and femininity, something that women are proud to have. Her chrysanthemums are her prized possessions and, in essence, an extension of herself. It becomes evident that the flowers are a part of Elisa when Henry says, “Some of those yellow chrysanthemums you had this year were ten inches across. I wish you’d work out in the orchard and raise some apples that big.’ Her eyes sharpened. ‘Maybe I could do it, too. I’ve a gift with things, all right’” (Steinbeck 3). She becomes irritated with Henry when all he says about her ability is that it could be used for better things. By better things he means something that benefits him and gives himself credit in the long run because if he can sell bigger, better apples he would have an even better reputation with the farming community. Henry completely disregards the flowers and Elisa and, in consequence, her femininity because the chrysanthemums are an extension of herself. He also makes her feel inferior because he just wants to use her for his own gain. On the other hand, after the Tinker comments specifically about the chrysanthemums and their beauty and her reaction is, “The irritation and resistance melted from Elisa’s face. ‘Oh, those are chrysanthemums, giant whites and yellows. I raise them every year, bigger than anybody around here’” (Steinbeck 7). Elisa is afraid that he only

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