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“The Epiphany in Steinbeck’s ‘The Chrysanthemums’”

Short stores are written to deploy “hidden” messages. Although short stories are brief enough to skim through, the reader must read between the lines to understand its true meaning. There are a variety of types of short stories, one of which is epiphany. Epiphany is “some moment of insight, discover, or revelation by which a character’s life or view of life is greatly altered” (Kennedy, 14). John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums” exemplifies an epiphany in which the main character struggles to find her identity. Steinbeck describes Elisa Allen, a lonely farmer’s wife. Elisa is introduced as a very manly looking individual with a little hint of feminism : “Her figure looked blocked and heavy in her gardening costume.” She wore “ a man’s black hat, clod-hopper shoes and heavy leather gloves.” She was also wearing “a figured print dress almost completely covered by a big corduroy apron.” (Steinbeck 254) Even if Elisa hid behind the symbolic attire, she was still doing the “female” job of tending a garden. Her ability to raise these chrysanthemums demonstrated her competence in creation, as well as her nurturing side. As a woman of that time, she feels trapped as an individual of society. Elisa, like many other women, was not given the opportunity to perform anything outside the duties of a housewife. This is exemplified in the setting of the story : “The high grey-flannel fog of winter closed off the Salinas Valley from the sky and from all the rest of the world.” (Steinbeck 254) The reader can also see this entrapment with the fence around her garden : “he (Henry) leaned over the wire fence that protected her flower garden from cattle and dogs and chickens.” (Steinbeck 255) The salesman who later approaches her represents the kind of life Elisa Allen hoped to live. This salesman travels to countries, making whatever little money he can from his customers by repairing their pots o...

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“The Epiphany in Steinbeck’s ‘The Chrysanthemums’”. (1969, December 31). In DirectEssays.com. Retrieved 14:46, October 24, 2014, from http://www.megaessays.com/viewpaper/10482.html