Boris Gru shin “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck The short story “The Chrysanthemums” shows how extraordinarily forward thinking the author, John Steinbeck, was in his understanding of the pressures that women dealt with in his time. Through the exploration and illustration of women’s emotions, Steinbeck gives us a view into the struggle of women in the early 20 th century to find a place for themselves in society as well as establishing their own sexuality (Charters, 502).
The story starts out with the description of a grey fog over the place where the story is set. The significance of this is to set the mood of the story. It also is a possible representation of how the main character of the story, Elisa Allen, feels about her life. Elisa is first introduced working in the garden planting her flowers, and while doing so looks up to see her husband talking to two men in suits.
She later asked him who they were and he said that he sold them some steers and “got nearly my own price, too” (The Chrysanthemums, 2).
This shows the fact that all the business of the family was handled by the man, and that in general women’s inputs were not considered, if they were ever given. However Elisa is by no means a woman who is unable to do things herself, Steinbeck makes a point to mention that “The chrysanthemum stems seemed too small and easy for her energy.” In the narration and description of Elisa’s garden and her chrysanthemums are strong and that she raised very good flowers in the past year as well. All of these things help the reader to empathize with Elisa and make her easier to identify with. The world that she lives in is a man’s world, and her husband is a “man’s man” and this is illustrated in his actions when talking to the men in suits “They smoked cigarettes and studied the machine as they talked.” This idea of it being a man’s world is a recurring theme in the story, another example of which is Henry’s attitude towards Elisa and the way he talks to her, like he is talking to someone beneath him “I’ll get out the car. You can put on your coat while I’m starting” (The Chrysanthemums, 6).
Men are From Mars, Women are from venus, gender differences in communication "MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS: GENDER DIFFERENCES IN COMMUNICATION" Men and women typically use different discourse strategies in communication, and, in general, women's linguistic behavior is disadvantageous compared to men's. This paper will attempt to demonstrate this fact, through the many stereotypes ...
Steinbeck gives us a clear understanding that Elisa isn’t very happy with her position in life, this is obvious when talking to the repairman, she says “I wish women could do such things” symbolizing her discontent with not just her role but women’s roles in society. And the fact that she argued over the fact that women wouldn’t like the repairman’s work shows that she is willing to stand up for herself and her beliefs. When Elisa is talking to the man about what it feels like when the plants bud, and tells him about the stars and then when she reached out for his leg, and then was ashamed, this is her way for expressing her sexual frustration. The fact that she felt ashamed shows that she saw sex and anything of relation to it as a sin, even though it is something that she wanted. This is marked by the fact that after the repairman left she went into the house, tore off her clothes and scrubbed herself until skin was scratched and red. Through this story Steinbeck allowed people to see and perhaps force them to think a little bit about the needs of women, and their roles in his society.
This story shows what kind of forward thinking person he was in terms of equality of the sexes.