The Chrysanthemums By John Steinbeck Essay, Research Paper
In John Steinbeck?s short story The Chrysanthemums a struggle for equality is portrayed through the character Elisa Allen.
Elisa is a frustrated woman living in a male dominated society. This theme is introduced to the audience at the beginning of the story. Elisa?s figure is described as ?blocked and heavy? and her home is described as ?hard-swept? and ?hard-polished.? I believe that Elisa is possibly unhappy with her female role, so in turn, she tries to reach out into some masculine areas or activities.
Elisa seems as though she attempts to react to situations as a man would, but due to a woman?s emotional side she is unable to do so. Take, for instance, when her husband comments about her ?strong? chrysanthemum crop. She is very pleased by the manliness that the word strong implies. Although quickly her husband asks her out for a night out on the town, therefore she is reminded of her womanhood.
The next situation involves the Tinker, offering to fix pots, pans and etc. When the dirty, tired man approaches her she declines his services, possibly as a man would. But the Tinker finds her sweet spot by asking her about her flowers. He pretends to be interested in her love for flowers. As he is doing this she emerges from her masculine side and her femininity burst through. She has allowed her emotions to come through, a trait woman posses.
As she goes into her home to prepare herself for the evening out she once again she goes from a masculine side into a feminine side. She takes off all the clothes and attire that made her look and feel masculine and dips into the tub. After her bath she looks at herself in the mirror then selects her best under garments and carefully does her hair and makeup. This is a continuos cycle through the story of aiming for masculinity however always retreated to femininity.
As Elisa and her husband depart their home for an evening out, she sees a black speck in the road ahead. Instantly she knows what it is: her lovely chrysanthemums. Her heart is broken. I think this last scene results in Elisa?s final retreat back to her feminity as she quietly cries from pain realizing her desires for equality are a failure.