Who Is John Steinbeck's 'The Chrysanthemums'?

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“The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck points out the numerous issues that are concentrated on the gender and sexual tensions between the characters: The Tinker, Elisa and Henry Allen. As the story begins, Steinbeck displays the weather as a “time of quiet and waiting” (358). The orchards have been cultivated and the fields have been cut, the only thing missing is the rain. Steinbeck proceeds to state that the, “fog and rain do not go together” just like the male and female characters of the story. In like manner, Elisa is not equal to Henry and the Tinker. Elisa wants to go out and explore the world like the tinker, but at that time it wasn’t ideal for a lady to be out doing those adventurous kinds of things. She was living in a man’s world. The essential theme that appears throughout “The Chrysanthemums,” is Elisa’s imaginative frustration. Some would view Elisa as a…show more content…
The initial conversation between Elisa and Henry is fairly vague, but enough for the reader to sense their weary tones. “At it again,” he said. “You’ve got a strong new crop coming.” As Elisa pulled on the gardening glove again and stood up right she softly replied, “Yes. They’ll be strong this coming year.” In her tone and on her face there was a little smugness” (359). We learn that Elisa's exemplary skill as a housekeeper and gardener denies Henry the slightest husbandly opportunity for anger or protest. When Henry moves toward Elisa's garden and comments on her stunning crop of chrysanthemums, his business receptiveness cause him to desire out loud that Elisa would upraise a cash crop of apples equally impressive. For her part, it is clear Elisa "could do it, too" because she has "planters' hands," hands that are capable of destroying "pests" before they get started. Her garden is as impeccable as the "clean mud-mat on the front steps"
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