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Elisa’s Unhappiness in The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck

:: 2 Works Cited
Length: 1450 words (4.1 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Blue      
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John Steinbeck’s short story “The Chrysanthemums” centers on Eliza and her relationship with her husband Henry. Critic Gregory Palmerino brings light to their relationship issues. He argues: “everywhere there is conflict in ‘The Chrysanthemums,’ but nowhere is there a fight. This absence of friction prevents Henry and Elisa’s relationship from progressing, whether it be as lovers, partners or parents” (Palmerino 1). What Palmerino does not focus on is where these deep-rooted communications stem from. Because the ideology of patriarchy is so ingrained in both Elisa and her husband, Elisa feels she cannot communicate with her husband or even with herself. In this text, the patriarchal ideology is reinforced by the way the characters are presented and their interactions with one another.

When the story begins, Steinbeck addresses the weather and we see that a thick fog was covering the land: “It was a time of quiet and of waiting […] the farmers were mildly hopeful of a good rain before long; but fog and rain do not go together” (Steinbeck 438). It is important to note that the w...


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... to her husband and be caged in a marriage with a man who shows very little interest in her as a woman. Their marriage will never progress and both individuals remain unhappy. Patriarchal thought is reinforced and Elisa will never have the life she wants.

Works Cited
Palmerino, Gregory J. "Steinbeck's 'The Chrysanthemums'." Explicator 62.3 (2004): 164-167. MLA International Bibliography. EBSCO. Claire Carney Library.


Steinbeck, John. "The Chrysanthemums." The Seagull Reader Stories. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2008. 437-448.

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