Preview
Preview

Essay on John Steinbeck's The Chrysanthemums

:: 8 Works Cited
Length: 1919 words (5.5 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Blue      
Open Document
Need writing help? Check your paper »



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

John Steinbeck's The Chrysanthemums


The short story “The Chrysanthemums,” by John Steinbeck, is a multi-layered work that contains various symbolic meanings, it is said to be “…one of the best things he ever did” (Parini 146). It has been hailed as a great short story not for the depiction of a cattleman and his wife, but for it’s symbolic meanings. Steinbeck was known for writing about his “…strong rebellion against any repressive power in civilization’s power bloc and his strong sensitivity toward any repressed individual” (Timmerman 177).
This sensitivity toward repressed individuals is quite evident through the portrayal of the confined cattleman’s wife, Elisa, and her encounter with the tinker. Though Steinbeck often struggled with writing his stories, it is said that this one was one of the hardest for him to write (Timmerman 38). It was a “story of a woman he couldn’t get out of his mind” (Timmerman 169). “The Chrysanthemums” is symbolic of Elisa’s failed attempt to escape her mechanical life and the domestic sphere that entraps her femininity and her true self.

The symbolic nature of this story relies on the creation of images of isolation, routine/mechanical lives, and oppression. A feeling of the isolation of the couple and Elisa individually is created through the description of the setting, “As in much of his fiction, this story opens with a personified landscape, a paysage moralisé in which the weather and geographical setting are deeply symbolic gesturing in the direction of the story’s ultimate meaning” (Parini 210). It is described as being “…closed off …from the sky and the rest of the world” (Steinbeck 213). This isolation is further developed as the reader learns that the couple goes into town ...


... middle of paper ...


...ations. Metuchen: Scarecrow P, 1992.

French, Warren. John Steinbeck’s Fiction Revisited. Ed. Frank Day. New York: Twayne, 1994.

Hapke, Laura. Daughters of the Great Depression: Women, Work, and Fiction in the American 1930’s. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1995.

Leroy, Thomas. “Steinbeck’s THE CHRYSANTHEMUMS”: Explicator 45.3 (Spring 1987): 50-51.

Parini, Jay. John Steinbeck: A Biography. Markham: Fitzhenry &Whiteside Ltd, 1995.

Steinbeck, John. “The Chrysanthemums.” 1934. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Eds. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 3rd. ed. New York: Longman, 2002. 221-220.

“Symbol” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Eds. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 3rd. ed. New York: Longman, 2002. 210-212.

Timmerman, John H. The Dramatic Landscape of Steinbeck’s Short Stories. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 1990.


Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »







This essay is 100% guaranteed.


Title Length Color Rating  
John Steinbeck's The Chrysanthemums Essay - John Steinbeck's The Chrysanthemums The Chrysanthemums is a story that takes place in the Salinas Valley of California. The story's main character is Elisa Allen. Elisa is thirty-five years old. She is a character that goes through development and many changes in the story. Throughout the story Elisa Allen goes through both physical and mental changes." In the beginning of the story Elisa is strong and eager"). She is working in her garden. Her husband Henry comes over to see her and asks her if she would like to go to town for dinner and a movie....   [tags: John Steinbeck The Chrysanthemums] 1083 words
(3.1 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
John Steinbeck’s The Chrysanthemums Essay - In John Steinbeck’s The Chrysanthemums, the reader is introduced to the seemingly timid and shy Elisa Allen. Elisa is routinely planting her yearly sets of Chrysanthemums, which appear to be the sole receptor of her caring and gentle touch, but all the while it is evident that “the chrysanthemum stems seemed too small and easy for her energy.” Her hidden eagerness seems not only out of place, but out of touch with her dry and wilted surroundings, of which her husband, Henry, abruptly interrupts her steady pace....   [tags: John Steinbeck The Chrysanthemums] 576 words
(1.6 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
John Steinbeck’s Short Story, The Chrysanthemums Essay - Chrysanthemums She was wearing “a man’s black hat…clod-hopper shoes, heavy leather gloves” and “a big corduroy apron” doing her best to cover up her femininity. In John Steinbeck’s short story, “The Chrysanthemums”, we are introduced to Elisa Allen. Elisa is living during a period after the Great Depression when women’s rights issues were becoming a topic of public concern. Steinbeck uses the character Elisa Allen to portray the women’s struggle for equality. She is a woman deprived of social, personal and sexual fulfillment in a male-dominated world....   [tags: Chrysanthemums John Steinbeck] 1133 words
(3.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The Chrysanthemums, by John Steinbeck Essays - In the short story “The Chrysanthemums” John Steinbeck uses symbolism to reflect the characteristics of his main character Elisa Allen. Elisa, a married woman uncovers her deeply smothered femininity in an inconspicuous sense. Her life in the valley had become limited to housewife duties and the only sustenance that seemed to exist could merely be found in her chrysanthemum garden. Not until she becomes encountered with a remote tinker-man out and about seeking for work, does she begin to reach many of the internal emotions that had long inhibited her femininity....   [tags: The Chrysanthemums]
:: 1 Works Cited
961 words
(2.7 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Symbolism in The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck Essay - Symbolism in The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck At first glance John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums' seems to be a story of a woman whose niche is in the garden. Upon deeper inspection, the story reveals strong symbolisms of children, vulnerability, and connection--being the most important, of the main character. Elisa Allen is the main character who is at her strongest and most proud in the garden and weakened when she becomes vulnerable and loses her connection to the outer world. Elisa shows a new aura of confidence when she makes this connection to a peddler, who also is the cause of her realization of reality and her crying....   [tags: Papers Chrysanthemums Steinbeck Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
706 words
(2 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Symbolism in The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck Essay - Symbolism in The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck "A symbol is an act, person, thing, or spectacle that stands for something else, by association a usually broader idea in addition to its own literal meaning" (Cassill & Bausch, 1728). John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums" may seem as a story describing a simple day with the Allen couple. It begins with Elisa Allen working in her garden and her husband, Henry Allen, negotiating with two suited business men that want to purchase steers. They seem to engage in conversations and go about their day as they normally would do....   [tags: Chrysanthemums Steinbeck Literature Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
1189 words
(3.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
John Steinbeck's “The Chrysanthemums” Essay - John Steinbeck's “The Chrysanthemums” John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums" shows the true feelings of the main character, Elisa Allen, through the use of setting and her interactions with other characters in the story. By way of vivid descriptions, Elisa's feelings of dissatisfaction over the lack of excitement in her life are portrayed. Her role as a mere housewife and then the subsequent change to feelings of a self-assured woman are clearly seen. These inner feelings are most apparent with the portrayal of Elisa working in the garden with the chrysanthemums, the conversation she has with the man passing through, and finally, when she and her husband are going out to dinner....   [tags: Steinbeck Chrysanthemums Essays] 1277 words
(3.6 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Epiphany of Elisa in John Steinbeck's The Chrysanthemums Essay - Epiphany of Elisa in John Steinbeck's The Chrysanthemums John Steinbeck described Elisa Allen in "The Chrysanthemums" only with her language and actions. From these, the reader gathers that Elisa is strong, lean, and eager; the way she talks confidently about her chrysanthemums not only shows her confidence, but her way of filling the void of intimacy in her marriage. However, by the end of the story, the reader finds Elisa completely different, signifying the toll her epiphany has had on her....   [tags: Literature Steinbeck Chrysanthemums Essays] 378 words
(1.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on The Chrysanthemums, by John Steinbeck - When John Steinbeck mocks feminism he is trying to show how woman in the story are dominated by a male or by a male society in general. The work is introduced by finding the fault against all women. In the times when John Steinbeck wrote the story, The Chrysanthemums, women were seen as inferior. Many times men and women would perform a equal task, but the women would be oppressed just because of their gender The women were not seen in the same respect in any aspect that men were. The portrayal of women greatly influenced the way John Steinbeck wrote this story....   [tags: The Chrysanthemums essays] 389 words
(1.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The Unfulfilled Elisa in John Steinbeck's The Chrysanthemums Essay - The Unfulfilled Elisa in John Steinbeck's The Chrysanthemums “The Chrysanthemums” is a short story in The Long Valley, a collection of short stories by John Steinbeck. This story dramatizes the efforts made by a housewife, Elisa Allen, to compensate for the disappointments which she has encountered in her life. Steinbeck makes it clear that Elisa yearns for something more in her life then the everyday routines of farm life. While Elisa is portrayed as strong, in the end, her strength serves to be insufficient in having the courage to effect any real change in her life since her fragile self-esteem proves to be too susceptible to outside forces....   [tags: Chrysanthemums Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
1519 words
(4.3 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]