The Chrysanthemums

A Woman's Job College

“The Chrysanthemums” written by John Steinbeck, illustrates the feelings of a woman in a misogynistic relationship living in a patriarchal society. Women are placed into gender roles of being housewives to their working husbands. They are portrayed as fragile, quiet, and submissive, and Steinbeck renders Elisa Allen as such, but her actions throughout the story show otherwise. Steinbeck elucidates Elisa’s realization of who she is as a woman, but how she hides her true feelings from her husband.

In the beginning of the story, Elisa is described as lean and strong, but “her figure looked blocked and heavy in her gardening costume” (Steinbeck). This is the first illustration that while Elisa is strong, she isn’t strong enough for what she is wearing. She is also wearing mostly men’s clothing for gardening, which defeminizes Elisa’s character. He even uses the masculine adjective, “handsome”, to describe her appearance as she gardens. The way Steinbeck describes Elisa in the garden is that the tools are using her and not the other way around; they are strong and powerful. Her energy while working with the chrysanthemums is “over-eager, over-powerful” and from the use of the masculine adjectives, this is too much for a woman....

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