Chrysanthemums Theme

             In John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums,” the main theme is suppression of a woman’s pride. Throughout the story, Elisa Allen is a housewife who takes care of her precious garden. She’s a very skilled gardener (who is also a housewife) and raises especially big and healthy chrysanthemums. Steinbeck gives many examples of her pride throughout the story, as well as the suppression she faced at that particular time period. The story was written in 1938, which was not long after The Great Depression in America. As the story progresses, Elisa shows her pride through the works of her garden.
             The first line in the story sets the tone for the theme. The setting is a “high-grey flannel fog of winter closed off the Salinas Valley from the sky and from all the rest of the world” (213). This makes the reader feel gloomy inside, as if they’re just waiting for the sunshine to burst through the clouds. These conditions compliment the theme of suppression, because it is as if all people in Salinas Valley – specifically Elisa Allen, are deprived of feeling good weather and the warm sun. After Elisa had been gardening for a bit, her husband comes and talks to her. He expressed to her that she had a strong new crop and that she was gifted. Then, the story reads, “I wish you’d work out in the orchard and raise some apples that big.” Her eyes sharpened. “Maybe I could do it, too” (214). This part of the story exemplifies her status at the time, which was a woman. Women were not supposed to work outside of the house, but she said “maybe I could do it, too” which showed not only did she think she could do it; she thought that her husband might actually allow her to work out in the orchard. This showed her hope and determination, which coincide with pride. [4] Elisa’s pride lies within her garden. It lies specifically in her chrysanthemums. Let’s explore part of the conversation she has with the man on the wagon. In re...

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Chrysanthemums Theme. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:06, January 18, 2017, from