Similarities Between The Chrysanthemums And Clothes
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Over the course of many generations and within many different cultures, women have faced oppression and have struggled to gain equality in society to men. Both Elisa Allen in John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums” and Sumita in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s “Clothes” desire to achieve equality in societies that limit them because of their gender. Both stories rely heavily on the use of symbolism and the authors use the most prominent symbol in each story as its title. These stories have similar conflicts, but have different circumstances surrounding the plot which contribute to their dissimilar outcomes.
A major contrast between Steinbeck’s story and Divakaruni’s story is the perspective from which they are told. “The Chrysanthemums” is told…show more content… society. As women they struggle to gain equality and are dissatisfied with their lives. Although these stories take place in different time periods and the women have different cultural backgrounds, both women are forced into traditional gender roles. At the beginning of “The Chrysanthemums”, Elisa Allen is described watching her husband engage with businessmen, but is unable to hear their conversation. Her husband, Henry, does not view her as his equal, which is why he does not involve her in his business discussions. He believes in strict gender roles and traditional patriarchal society; men are meant to work and women simply take care of the household. Henry symbolizes a patriarchal society, and can therefore be called an antagonist of Elisa. The narrator discusses how tending to the chrysanthemums seems to be too simple for Elisa’s potential and power, but she has limited opportunities in her life on the ranch (Steinbeck 321). During Elisa’s encounter with the tinker, she admits that she would rather have his lifestyle and freedom, but as he states, “It ain’t the right kind of a life for a woman” (Steinbeck 326). Steinbeck suggests that Elisa may be more capable of performing the tinker’s job, as she struggles to find work for him since she has done it all herself. When the tinker shows interest in Elisa’s chrysanthemums and asks to bring some to a lady, Elisa feels a significance that extends beyond her ranch. The tinker is manipulative though and appeals to Elisa’s emotional and sexual desires merely to make money. Elisa soon realizes he has discarded the flowers on the road, and she feels worthless once again (Cengage). In the beginning of “Clothes” Sumita is being forced into an arranged marriage, which is highly common in Indian culture. In India, Sumita’s mom told her “A married woman belongs to her husband, her in-laws” (Divakaruni 329). This holds true for