The Chrysanthemums

The Door of Opportunity College

John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums” dives into the world of wife Elisa Allen. As a 35 year old woman she is childless and extremely dissatisfied in her passionless marriage to her well-meaning but utterly clueless husband, Henry. Her low level of self-confidence also contributes to this feeling. Despite having her chrysanthemums to make her somewhat happier in her life, in the end she fails to confront her dissatisfaction in every other aspect of her life, ultimately leading to a lifetime of unfulfillment.

Elisa is deeply unsatisfied with her marriage. Elisa and her husband Henry are more like roommates than husband and wife in the sense that their marriage is passionless and they go about their daily activities more or less completely separate from one another. Elisa feels disconnected from Henry because of this lack of togetherness and is illustrated when Henry tells her that he “sold thirty head of three-year-old steers” getting “nearly my own price, too” (Steinbeck). Elisa reacts by saying “Good,…Good for you” (Steinbeck). Her reaction shows how she does not celebrate this as an accomplishment for the both of them, but only sees it as something good for Henry, even though this accomplishment is bound to benefit the both...

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