The Chrysanthemums Essay

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Betrayal in “The Chrysanthemums” Summary: An analysis of three types of betrayal portrayed by John Steinbeck in his short story “The Chrysanthemums.” These three types are the betrayal of Elisa by the salesman; Elisa’s betrayal of her husband through her confiding in the salesman; and Elisa’s betrayal of herself through her refusal to express her true emotions fully. Betrayal in “The Chrysanthemums” In John Steinbeck’s short story,” The Chrysanthemums,” there is a strong underlining of betrayal. We can see betrayal in three forms throughout the story. First we see Elisa being betrayed by the salesman who plays on her emotions by giving her a sales pitch only to get some work out of her. Then, in result to confiding in the salesman Elisa betrays her husband by opening herself up, and confiding to a complete stranger things which she couldn’t reveal to her own husband. Finally, we see Elisa betraying herself by not allowing herself to fully express her true emotions, and by being too afraid to step out of societies norms for woman during this time. Elisa Allen is a thirty-five-year-old woman who lives on a ranch in the Salinas Valley with her husband Henry. She is “lean and strong,” and wears shapeless, functional clothes (Steinbeck 203). The couple has no children, no pets, no near neighbors, and Henry is busy doing chores on the ranch throughout the day. Elisa fills her hours by vigorously cleaning the “hard-swept looking little house, with hard-polished windows,” and by tending her flower garden (204). She has “a gift” for growing things, especially her chrysanthemums, and she is proud of it (204). One day, when her husband Henry goes to work a traveling salesman stops by the house looking for some new work. There is a sense of slight flirtation at first, but that’s just because Elisa is so excited to have conversation with someone else other than her

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