“Underneath it all: Elizabeth and Lorraine”
Character analysis and comparison.
‘Odor of Chrysanthemums’
‘A sense of shame’
Who decides what we should feel or how we should act? And, to what extent can we handle not being able to express our own thoughts, opinions and feelings? The characters Elizabeth and Lorraine, from the stories “Odor of Chrysanthemums” and “A Sense of Shame” respectively, both had feelings that “did not belong” or “were not appropriate” to the context of their specific situations. Each woman was put under pressure from the outside and it took a deeper look to be able to realize and truly see their inner emotions. Elizabeth’s more than inappropriate feelings for her husband, where she was more relieved at the news of his death rather than sad or in grief and Lorraine’s ongoing conflict between the love she felt for Mohammad and the risk she put herself in when starting a relationship with someone people would not approve of, come to show that we cannot always be expected to feel, or act or even think in the same way that is sometimes placed upon us. The values and ideals that a culture may enforce on us can have such an impact and we may not even realize it until we find ourselves in a situation that has us believing or thinking differently. How can we know how much of the outside world has influenced our thoughts and opinions, constantly telling us what is right and wrong, and, most importantly, how do we act when we come to realize that our feelings are different than what is expected?
We first hear of Elizabeth Bates, from the story “Odor of Chrysanthemums”, presented as a housewife, when she is waiting for her husband to return home from work. Right away something feels strange, because she does not show any signs of anxiousness or concern for her husband to return, but rather, there seems to be a feeling of tiredness and anger. As if, bothered, yet again, by the fact that she knows her husband will not show...