Hidden Passions an Analysis of the Chrysanthemums

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Hidden Passion’s In John Steinbeck’s short story “The Chrysanthemums” imagery and symbols are used to show the repressed feminine qualities, hidden passion and feelings of inequality in the main character Elisa Allen. Who is a strong, capable woman kept from social, personal and sexual fulfillment . Elisa is a homemaker living in Salinas Valley, California with her farmer husband Henry. Elisa is a lonely woman whose days consist of nourishing and growing “chrysanthemum” flowers in her fenced in garden. Steinbeck uses the “chrysanthemum” flower, the variation of her clothing, the way she interacts with her husband and the tinker as examples of symbolism. Page 2 The “chrysanthemums” flowers symbolize the extension of Elisa Allen herself. The flowers representing her beauty, femininity and sexuality . Which for her is where her power and strength lie. The flower is everything she is and everything she is made of. Elisa has “growing hands” which in turn brings out the fertility and the rich potential that they possess. Henry does not see the beauty in the flowers like Elisa does. He does not appreciate the “ great soft blossoms shaped like a woman’s breast”(Steinbeck 240) which is the reflection of her sexually. which in turn he cannot appreciate or see the ripeness and vitality of the woman whom seems to be created in every way possible for reproduction. Elisa is caged in by her garden and in the same way has enclosed her femininity beneath with the wearing of masculine clothes and she is described as “her face lean and strong. Her

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