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Bernal 1 Stephanie Bernal Professor Rose English 1302 28 November

Bernal 1 Stephanie Bernal Professor Rose English 1302 28 November

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Published by: blissmeanders on Dec 03, 2009
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Bernal 1Stephanie BernalProfessor RoseEnglish 130228 November 2009Forbidden Flowers“The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck is a story of a woman named Elisa Allean,who gets carried away with flattery after a brief encounter with another man. Elisa is a thirty-fiveyear old woman who lives on a ranch in California with her husband, Henry. She spends her days gardening and planting all types of  plants flowers, butshe paying paysspecial attention to her Chrysanthemums. One day, a traveling repairman comes by Elisa and Henry’s home; he asksElisa for directions and inquires about any handy-work she might need done. Elisa is short withthe Tinker at first, but when he takes notice of her Chrysanthemums she quickly warms up andher femininity slowly becomes more apparent. The man mentions a customer of his that has beensearching for Chrysanthemums, and Elisa eagerly prepares some of the roots for him to take.She also finds a few pots for him to fix, after he continuously drops hints about needing work.The repairman leaves and Elisa experiences abrief senseof shameof guiltfor fawning over him. Then she carefully prepares herself for an evening out with her husband; she craves the sameattention from him that she felt from the repairman. Elisa’s husband, Henry, does not realize thatshe is fishing for intimacy, and he upsets her when he does not respond as she desires. On their way into town, Elisa sees the Chrysanthemum roots she had given thetTinker dumped on theside of the road. The swelling confidence she felt moments earlier shrunk into embarrassment,hurt, and confusion. Elisa was flattered by the interest the Tinker took in her flowers and wasrejuvenated with excitementand femininity. Bonding with another person, on a mental or 
Bernal 2emotional level, is a feeling most people want and appreciate. Steinbeck shows the important of human interaction and bonding.Elisa isastrong-willed, hard-working, yet sensitive woman who becomes more self-aware after meeting another man thatseem totakesinterest in her. She is a round character   because physical and behavioral details are given through direct and indirect characterization.Elisa’sis described as having a “face [that] was lean and strong [and] her figure looked blockedand heavy,” which creates a masculine image of her (Steinbeck 705). This is a use of indirectcharacterization. Elisa’s mother was a wonderful gardener, and she prides herself on having thesame planting abilities. Through indirect characterization, Steinbeck shows her confidence ingardening. After Henry compliments Elisa’s crop, she accepts thencompliment and “in her toneand on her face there was a little smugness” (Steinbeck 705). Elisa’schange inoutlook changed after meeting the Tinker shows that she is a dynamic character. When the Tinker strikes up aconversation about her Chrysanthemums, she is flattered and excited. Elisa becomes even moreenamored with the mysterious man after realizing his free-spirited way of living, and her love of nature is apparent. In an analysis of this story, Tim Akers writes “Elisa envies the man’s life onthe road and is attracted to him because he understands her love of flowers” (Akers 61).The conflicts in the story are Person vs. Self, which is internal, and Person vs. Person,which is external. The exposition shows the tense interaction of Henry and Elisa; they aren’thostile toward one another, but intimacy is lacking from their relationship. This why it didn’ttake much for Elisa to be captivated by the tinker; he is not described as a handsome man,butshe interprets their interaction as flirtation. Henry’s attempts to compliment Elisa’schrysanthemums come across as criticism when he says, “I wish you’d work out in the orchardand raise some apples that big” (Steinbeck 705). The conflict becomes internal when the Elisa
Bernal 3has an intense conversation about the tinker’s lifestyle. The thought of being out on the roadseems exciting to Elisa, but after he leaves she is ashamed of herself and the feelings she hastoward the man. Elisa is so caught up in the moment that she almost makes physical contact withthe tinker and . She pulls her hand back ashamed and brings their conversation to a close. Sshewatches him leave and whispers to herself like a smitten teenager. She snaps back into realityonce the tinker is out of sight and “[shakes] herself free and [looks] about to see whether anyonehad been listening” (Steinbeck 710). Elisa’s conflict becomes external once again when Henry’signorance and the tinker’s blatant betrayal leave her hurt and discouraged. Elisa prepares herself slowly and carefully for an evening out with her husband, but when he compliments her bysaying “you look strong enough to break a calf over your knee,” she is frustrated (Steinbeck 710). Regardless of how strong Elisa is portrayed at the beginning of the story, she is very hurtwhen she sees her chrysanthemums carelessly dumped on the side of the road. She discoversthem on her way into town with Henry and she turns away to avoid seeing the tinker’s wagon.Akers describes Elisa’s reaction as feeling “betrayed, by the man and by her romantic ideas”(Akers 63).The point of view used in this story is limited omniscient. Only Elisa’s thoughts andfeelings are detailed, but the story is not told from her point of view. The description of her innermost thoughts is lacking; most of them are implied through her actions and left up to thereader’s imagination. While she is getting ready for the date with Henry, Steinbeck describes her careful routine but does not describe her thoughts. The reader simply assumes she is hoping for a romantic response from her husband. Throughout this part of the story “the third personnarrator does not reveal Elisa’s heart either,” this is a limitation for the reader (Akers 65).Steinbeck must’ve wanted the story to be left slightly mysterious.

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