Chrysanthemums Analysis

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Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck, most known for his novel The Grapes of Wrath, also wrote two collections of short stories. With over thirty works in his career, Steinbeck developed a unique style of his own. A few of the commonalities in his work include a setting in the Salinas Valley, his works also often have “a recurring theme [of] frustration resulting from isolation, loneliness, or sexual repression” (Werlock). These elements of Steinbeck’s writing provide “open-ended and thought provoking” ideas that allow new generations to relate to his characters (Werlock). For example, in John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums”, he reveals that in the patriarchal society of the 1930s women serve more as a decoration and have little purpose in the world; he does so through character, symbolism, and point of view. First, Steinbeck’s characters help display the theme of sexism through two types of men and an oppressed woman. Elisa Allen is a strong, passionate women living an unsatisfying life with a desire to escape her life, yet can not leave due to societies thoughts about women. Society looked down upon a woman’s desire to go on an adventure and see the world or to start her own business. With the thought that her life could change, Elisa becomes a new woman by bathing “until her skin was scratched and red. When she has dried herself she stood in front of a mirror in her bedroom and looked at her body” (Steinbeck 197). She had transformed herself into a person, however as the story ends and she finds her chrysanthemums on the road, she then reverts to her old self and is forced to live a boring life with no career and expected to take care of the housekeeping and gardening instead. Elisa is frustrated because all she wants to do is to have mental fulfillment by doing something more with her life. In contrast, the tinker is smart, good-looking, adventurous, and
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