The Femininity of the Chrysanthemums

Topics: Gender, Woman, John Steinbeck Pages: 2 (762 words) Published: April 17, 2008
The femininity in The Chrysanthemums
Men have been known to be superior to women. Women try hard to get passed this irrelevant stereotype. It is unfair to say that women cannot be independent and take control. There have been many critics that apply feminism to this story. “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck reveals Elisa Allen’s desire to have a more passionate marriage and secrets of expressing her gender. Elisa Allen realizes that she acts totally different around her husband. When she meets a stranger passing through her garden he helps her understand that she should be herself. She doesn’t act like herself around her husband, but acts like he sees her to be. The setting helps symbolize the characterization of Elisa Allen.

Elisa Allen’s struggle to find her identity is brought together by the symbolism of the chrysanthemums and other ideas which help the reader get to that conclusion. Elisa does not appear to be comfortable with her sexuality and shows a bit of her manly side: “Her figure looked blocked and heavy in her gardening costume.” This is also shown by her appearance: “a man’s black hat, clod-hopper shoes and heavy leather gloves". There is also a feminine side to her clothing when she had on “A figured print dress almost completely covered by a big corduroy apron." Despite the symbolic ideas of the clothing, she had her feminine job of taking care of her garden. Her garden meant a lot to her. Elisa would treat the chrysanthemums as if they were her children. This shows the reader that she wants more to life than just gardening.

The setting of the story is at the valley of Salinas, California. Even though it seems like such beautiful scenery, the location seems so isolated: "The high grey flannel fog of winter closed off the Salina's valley from the sky and from the rest of the world. On every side it sat like a lid on the mountains and made of the great valley a closed pot". This can give the reader the idea of why...
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