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Attention Leads to Confidence in the Chrysanthemums Essay

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Women, always have and always will love receiving attention; especially when that attention is from a male because girls just like feeling special above all else. In The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck, Elisa Allen likes this recognition as well. However, her husband Henry is selfish and too occupied to deal with Elisa and this makes her feel unimportant. Later on, when the man on the wagon arrives at the ranch Elisa and her chrysanthemums find the respect that every woman hopes to secure. Nonetheless, that respect given to Elisa was brief since the man discards her confidence and her chrysanthemums on the road. Therefore, it is clearly evident that the amount of notice bestowed to Elisa and her chrysanthemums alludes to her level of confidence.
Throughout the story, Henry Allen’s selfishness and mixed priorities result in the neglect of Elisa which causes her to feel unappreciated and unloved. Elisa is not very comfortable around her husband Henry, this fact is illustrated when “he leaned over the wire fence that protected her flower garden from cattle and dogs and chickens” (Steinbeck 270). By keeping Henry outside of the garden, on the other side of the fence it is shown that Elisa does not trust him to get near her chrysanthemums. The chrysanthemums are very symbolic in the story as they symbolize Elisa Allen herself, and her only source of joy in the world. Henry is not welcomed into the garden for fear that her confidence, joy and beauty may be crushed. Henry opposes Elisa and the hard work the protagonist has put into her chrysanthemums. Henry tells her that “[he wishes she would] work out in the orchard and raise some apples [as big as her chrysanthemums]” (Steinbeck 270). In doing so, Elisa’s efforts go un...


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... cries because her dignity is gone, and it becomes a realization that she will never get the attention she seeks, the one that will give her the confidence she needs. It appears as though hope is non existent for Elisa Allen and that is why the protagonist is described as “crying like an old woman”.
In conclusion, Elisa’s level of confidence is directly proportional with the amount of attention given to herself and her chrysanthemums. Henry’s selfishness causes Elisa to experience feelings of neglect. The bearded man’s interest in Elisa makes the protagonist feel very confident as a woman. Eventually, this same man makes Elisa realize that her expectations of men were too high as the man threw away her only source of joy in the world. When receiving unexpected extra attention, be prudent because it may be for other reasons than the one originally thought.



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