John Steinbeck's The Chrysanthemums and D.H. Lawrence's The Odour of Chrysanthemums

John Steinbeck's The Chrysanthemums and D.H. Lawrence's The Odour of Chrysanthemums

Length: 1511 words (4.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

John Steinbeck's 'The Chrysanthemums' and D.H. Lawrence's 'The Odour of Chrysanthemums'

Women in the 1900s were given little attention. John Steinbeck and D.H
Lawrence however have chosen to base their short stories on a single
woman character and around a type of flower, which is the
chrysanthemum. Though written by male writers, both stories give an
insight of the feelings and actions of a female character in that time
period and how chrysanthemums can mean an entirely different obsession
towards the two main characters.

John Steinbeck's 'The Chrysanthemums' is about a tinker who confronts
Elisa Allen while she was working on her prized chrysanthemums. Elisa
was impressed of the tinker's freedom and his way of life. The tinker
offers his service, repairing pots and pans, to Elisa, but she refuses
at first. However, the tinker does not give up and tells Elisa about a
customer that would be interested in her chrysanthemums. Elisa's
attitude instantly changed and after her discussion with tinker she
finds some work for the tinker to work on. Elisa's husband, Henry,
takes her out later to the city for dinner. To her dismay she finds
her lovely chrysanthemums dumped by the roadside by the tinker.

D.H Lawrence, however, writes about Elizabeth Bates and her children
who wait for the return of Walter, husband and father, who is late in
his homecoming. Elizabeth has a brief meeting with her father. Not
waiting any longer, Elizabeth and her children have dinner. Elizabeth
puts her children to sleep and then goes out to look for her husband.
It turns out that the husband had an accident and is now dead.
Elizabeth's mother in law visits her and together they clean the dead
Walter, while reminiscing the past....

... middle of paper ...

...not be offered to strangers.
However, in 'Odour of Chrysanthemums,' Elizabeth realises she has
never really known Walter and is ashamed to handle him. She
experiences fear for she is aware that she has no control over her
destiny and that she cannot escape death.

Both stories do not have a happy ending, but instead deal with
different aspects of life. 'The Chrysanthemums' with society and
trust, whereas 'Odour of Chrysanthemums' with fate and death. I feel
that John Steinbeck offers a better ending because it teaches us not
to trust strangers with ease and gives us the message that we should
be happy with what we have, not to envy others. Then again, the ending
in 'Odour of chrysanthemums' is also true but I feel that it is too
harsh. It is a fact that every creature will encounter death but death
should not be Elizabeth's or anyone's 'ultimate master.'

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck Essay

- ... Still, Elisa’s innate ability to grow things was not enough for Henry to let her collaborate in the economic progress of the farm. Even though Henry agrees about her wife’s ability by pointing out “you’ve got a gift with things… I wish you’d work out in the orchard and raise some apples” (Steinbeck 182), he does not considers this ability a sufficient condition to let Elisa collaborate in the farm’s economic productivity as he claims by answering “well, it sure works with flowers” (183). This lack of support by Henry’s side, leads Elisa to a mental state in which she feels powerless and disadvantaged as we see when she celebrates Henry’s success by saying “good for you” (183)....   [tags: women´s reality, great depression]

Powerful Essays
1045 words (3 pages)

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]

Powerful Essays
961 words (2.7 pages)

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]

Powerful Essays
1083 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on John Steinbeck's The Chrysanthemums

- 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)....   [tags: John Steinbeck Chrysanthemums Papers]

Powerful Essays
1919 words (5.5 pages)

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]

Powerful Essays
576 words (1.6 pages)

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]

Powerful Essays
1133 words (3.2 pages)

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]

Powerful Essays
706 words (2 pages)

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]

Powerful Essays
1189 words (3.4 pages)

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]

Powerful Essays
1277 words (3.6 pages)

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]

Free Essays
378 words (1.1 pages)