The Struggle Of a Loving Farm Wife Essay

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The Struggle of a Loving Farm Wife In his short story "The Chrysanthemums," John Steinbeck presents a narrative rich in symbolism, focusing on the yearnings of a frustrated farm wife. However, it is not simply the tale of an individual woman's oppression, but a commentary on the limitations that faced all women in early twentieth century America. Steinbeck uses both symbolism and setting to create a mood of isolation and longing. The reader is able to understand how a woman comes to feel trapped within her own life, and begins to resist the constraints that are forced upon her. In the end, Steinbeck conveys a sense of hopeless about his main character's plight, and though she may try to rise beyond her position, reality will always intrude and keep her entrenched in a suppressed role. "The Chrysanthemums" is the story of Elisa Allen, the wife of cattle farmer Henry Allen. Elisa works diligently in her garden, preparing this year's chrysanthemums, while Henry conducts business. As she prepares her flowers, a traveling handy man passes, and inquires as to whether Elisa might have some scissors that need sharpening or pots that require mending. She rebuffs him until he takes an interest in her chrysanthemums, explaining that he knows a woman up the road who would love to grow such flowers herself. Elisa gladly provides the handy man with a pot of clippings from her garden, so that he might take them to the other woman. Elisa is so moved by the handy man's interest in her chrysanthemums that she finds a saucepan for the man to fix before he leaves. Later, however, as she is driving into town for dinner with her husband, Elisa sees that her chrysanthemums have been dumped on the side of the road. Understanding that the handy man tricked her in order to make money, Elisa is devastated. While Steinbeck's story may seem simple on the surface, his

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