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Analysis of The Chrysanthemums Essay

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Analysis of The Chrysanthemums

The short story "The Chrysanthemums" gives insight into the life of its author. John Steinbeck was born on February 27, 1902, in Salinas, California. The locale of the story is of key resemblance to the Salinas in which Steinbeck was born and bread. "Salinas was a typical American small town, [differing] only in location and a few distinctive features" (McCarthy 3). The protagonist of this story, Elisa Allen, also resembles Steinbeck's first wife. "Steinbeck probably based the character of Elisa Allen on his own first wife, Carol Henning Steinbeck. Like Elisa, Carol was a woman of considerable talent and energy who wore 'masculine clothes' and was 'strong, large-boned' and 'handsome rather than pretty'" (Hughes 23). Similar to the time frame in which Steinbeck lived, the theme of the story comes across as being male dominant and the rustic setting allows us to visualize this.
"The Chrysanthemums" is a good depiction of most marriages in the early 1900's, the husband is the chief breadwinner and the wife is considered nothing more than a housewife. "The simple story outlines are enriched by irony and imagery which contrast the rich land and the sterile marriage, the fertile plants and Elisa's inner emptiness" (McCarthy 26). The story begins by introducing the setting: "The high grey-flannel fog of winter closed off the Salinas Valley from the sky and the rest of the world" (Steinbeck 115). This vivid illustration unconsciously gives the reader a look into the dominating theme. However, it is not until the climax of the story that the reader begins to notice Elisa's true pain and need for her own self-identity. The main protagonist i...


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..., no story has been more highly praised than "The Chrysanthemums" (Hughes 21).




Bibliography:

Works Cited

Beach, Joseph. "John Steinbeck's Authentic Characters." Readings on John Steinbeck.
Ed. Swisher, Clarice. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1996. 30-39.

French, Warren. John Steinbeck. Second Ed. Twayne's United States Author Series.
Boston: Twayne, 1975.

Hughes, R.S. John Steinbeck: A Study of the Short Fiction. Twayne's Studies in Short
Fiction Series, No.5. Boston: Twayne, 1989.

Lewis, Leon. "The Chrysanthemums." Masterplots II: Short Story Series. Ed. Frank N.
Magill. Vol. 1. Pasadena: Salem, 1986.

McCarthy, Paul. John Steinbeck. New York: Unger, 1980.

Steinbeck, John. "The Chrysanthemums." Fiction: A Longman Pocket Anthology. Ed.
R.S. Gwynn. Second Ed. New York: Longman, 1998. 115-124.




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