In “The Chrysanthemums”, by John Steinbeck, Elisa is a character who is caught in a conflict when meeting a tin smith who seems to prey on her strengths in order to get what he wants. A chrysanthemum is an ornamental flower that needs to be taken care of properly. Compared to other plants they are low maintenance except for the fact that they need to be protected from frost and can generally last a long time. Other than being used to make some teas, the flower’s main purpose is to look pretty. A chrysanthemum flower in itself is important to the plot of the story because of it can be representative of Elisa and a female’s role in society during the Depression Era which is to look pretty however her opinions and work go unacknowledged.
One of the first important descriptions in “The Chrysanthemums,” is the setting. It is metaphoric of the Elisa’s life because everything seems bland and not much changes. During her conversation with her husband we can see that she is very sheltered from the men on the ranch which demonstrates how lonely she is and can also indicate how unimportant her role in society is. Even though she is a woman her appearance is described as masculine, a key factor because even though she is capable of farm work, she doesn’t do anyso. Although her husband, Henry acknowledges her hobby and passion for flowers, the acknowledgment alone is not enough to satisfy her.
“You’ve got a gift with things,” Henry observed. Some of those yellow chrysanthemums you had this year were ten inches across. I wish you’d work out in the orchard and raise some apples that big.”
It is apparent that Henry realizes how talented Elisa is but only jokes about the idea of how much of a help she could potentially be. When it is time for Henry to get back to work, Elisa uses the time to transplant some more flowers rather than join him because she really has nothing else to do.
Moving on in the story Elisa is acquainted with a traveling...