The Chrysanthemums

981 words 4 pages
John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums”, is a story about a woman struggling with strong inner feelings of loneliness and isolation. Elisa Allen is initially portrayed as a woman who overcompensates and whose tasks are far exceeded by her abilities. She appears content with her life and adores tending to her garden. However, a tinker briefly enters her life and through his power of persuasion and manipulation provides Elisa with hopes of change and excitement. He gives her the much needed attention she is so desperately looking for. As the story continues we learn that these hopes are crushed as we unravel the betrayal the tinker has bestowed upon Elisa. He exploits her and takes advantage of her hunger for company, aspirations, and …show more content…

Elisa finally felt as though she belonged, as if she had shed her lonely days and looked forward to enjoying a more meaningful life. Her restored faith is exemplified when she allows the tinker to enter the gate that once isolated her from society.

As the tinker leaves Elisa has a restored sense of hope, and no longer feels isolated and alone. For the first time Elisa applies all her energy into herself, “she put on her newest underclothing, nicest stockings, and the dress which was the symbol of her prettiness” (Steinbeck 352). Instead of looking masculine and remaining isolated, Elisa looks ravishing and feminine. However, as Elisa and her husband travel to dinner she sees a “dark spot” and immediately feels ashamed. The speck was her treasured chrysanthemums the tinker just threw out, like garbage. Elisa was mortified; by both the betrayal from the tinker and the overwhelming feeling that her life would remain stagnant, “she turned up her coat collar so he would not see she was crying weakly-like an old woman” (Steinbeck 353). Elisa once again hid behind her clothing and wept in complete isolation. Instead of sharing her feelings with her husband she kept them to herself and returned to struggling in silence. Steinbeck’s portrayal of Elisa Allen signifies the internal struggles of a housewife in the 1930’s. Through the main character, Elisa, we get the feelings of empathy for a


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