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A Deep Look At Elisa Allen in Steinbeck's The Chrysanthemums Essay

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The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck is not just a simple short story. Yes it is a short story about a country housewife that lives a boring life and grows beautiful flowers. She is then mislead to believe that a perfect stranger has interest in her flowers and is moved to reveal to him her secrets in growing them and even give him not only some of her prized shoots from the flowers but also some work so that he is given what he originally wanted. She then finds her shoots thrown haphazardly on the side of the road. She begins to ask for wine and becomes very saddened and begins to weep. On the surface it seems like a very superficial story about how a woman could be deceived by a man into believing that he has interest in what she can accomplish. However when one reads the story from a higher critical perspective, especially the last line one realizes how deeply profound the story really is. The last line of the story where the main character Elisa Allen declares that a little wine will be enough and she begins to cry like an old woman reveals that she has grudgingly accepted her lot in life and accepts that she can only experience so much fulfillment due to her position in society and the fact that it has stolen her youth and left her a bitter old woman.
Elisa Allen is a strong hardworking woman that is very skilled at growing Chrysanthemums. Her husband recognizes her skill however he does not truly appreciate what is behind it. He instead attempts to encourage her to use her skills for a more practical and therefore supposedly more meaningful endeavor such as growing apple trees. “Her husband, Henry Allen does not understand her mind; his interest is focused not on the point that she likes to grow it but on the possibility o...


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...en, as even her husband had made a joke about taking her there. However she desires to go and although envisioning such bloodshed repulses her it is also alluring. “In other words, the imbalance between the relatively restricted setting and Elisa's vaulting desire to wander into the unknown territory is chiefly designed to strengthen the overall imagery of Elisa, whose drive to experience the violent outer world.” (Compare Contrast Essay) So she decides to ask if she can have some wine instead and hopes for the excitement it might be able to bring although she knows that whatever momentary excitement it might bring it is not lasting. The next day she will continue to be a bored house wife, with a husband that largely ignores her and is boring and content. Even what she has to work on, the source of pride in her life the Chrysanthemums are meaningless. So she weeps.


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