Katie Dunham Professor Barrett ENGL 1302.

N1 June 22, 2007 Marriage May Not Always be What it Seems Marriage is a difficult and challenging commitment that takes a lifetime of dedication and work. In order to make a marriage flourish and grow both people need to work extremely hard. Society places a very difficult task on a woman to always put on a happy face even when times are hard. Therefore, a woman’s face may not always show what is really going on inside of her heart. The characters, symbolism, and plot resolution in "The Chrysanthemums" by John Steinbeck and "A Jury of Her Peers" by Susan Glaspell are used to give the reader greater insight on the practice of women appearing to feel one way on the outside, but harboring other feelings on the inside towards their husbands. Henry Allen in "Chrysanthemums" tries hard to keep his wife’s attention, whereas Mr. Wright in "Story" has stopped trying altogether to make his wife happy. Henry Allen is a hard working man who does his best to please his wife. He takes her to dinner and tries to relate to her by talking about her passion for her flowers. “I thought how it’s Saturday afternoon, and we might go in to Salinas for dinner at a restaurant, and then to see a picture show” (R & J 325). After her husband invites her to dinner, Elisa seems excited and happy to be with her husband. It's not until later on in the story that the reader realizes she is not as happy as she seems. She meets a traveling salesman who lives in his wagon and had no home. “I've never lived as you do, but I know what you mean...Every pointed star gets driven into your body. It's like that. Hot and sharp-lovely” (R &J 327). All of the sudden a new side of Elisa is shown, and the reader realizes that she might not be as happy as she was portrayed to be in the

beginning. In contrast, John Wright was a hard working man who no longer tried to please his wife. “...At the same time I didn't know as what his wife wanted made much difference to John” (R&J 152). This excerpt from “Jury” shows that many people in the town had come to realize that John Wright cared very little for his wife Minnie. However, it is not clear until the very end just how little he cared for her. People in the town tried to stay out of one another's business and tend to their own needs. Also, many times they just did not want to know what was going on behind closed doors. This made it easy for Minnie Foster Wright to be overlooked and ignored. No one could have ever known just how bad this relationship was. After Mr. Wrights murder, as Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters search through the house for clues, they find a broken lining on the stove. Mrs. Hale says “...The thought of Minnie Foster trying to bake in that oven and the thought of her never going over to see Minnie Foster” (R & J 154). This shows how John did not take care of Minnie and how much it bothered Mrs. Hale that Minnie never said anything about it to her. The characters in “Chrysanthemums” and “Jury” play a huge role in proving that the way a woman looks and acts on the outside might not always be a good indicator of how she feels on the inside. The authors of“Chrysanthemums” and “Jury” use symbolism to explicitly state what is or went wrong in each of the respected marriages. Light and dark are used in “Chrysanthemums” to symbolize the true feelings that Elisa has. Anytime someone asks Elisa about her flowers she perks up and the reader can see the buds of romance and femininity sprouting up within her. When Elisa's husband is talking to her about her flowers, she seems to be very interested and “her eyes sharpened” (R & J 325). This is similar to the way she acts when she has the lengthy talk with the traveling salesman about gardening. It seems as if she has life and energy flowing from within her. Elisa realizes that her passion is for her flowers and wishes that she could be like the traveling salesman. When he is leaving she

whispers, “ That's a bright direction. There's a glowing there” (R & J 329). This shows how the author uses the bright light to symbolize Elisa's happiness and freedom. After the salesman leaves Elisa tries her hardest to look nice for her husband. She spends a lot of time getting ready and even puts on makeup for their date. Try as she may to pretend that everything is okay with her, the reader never gets the same bright and happy feel from Elisa. From that moment until the end of the story the author never uses bright words except when speaking of Elisa looking towards the road and seeing a “thin band of sunshine” (R & J 330). Which symbolizes her seeing the road as her bright future. The author even describes her husbands suit as a “dark suit”. Likewise, Glaspell of “Jury” uses a birdcage to symbolize the reality of the Wright's marriage as opposed to the way their marriage really was. When Minnie Foster was a young lady she always looked nice, and was active in the town events. When she married John Wright, she made a complete change. Minnie had bought a bird almost a year before from a traveling salesman. Since John was not around very much, and they had no children, the women assumed that Mrs. Wright had to of loved that bird as her child. Mrs. Hale was speaking of Minnie when she said, “ She come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird herself. Real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and fluttery. How did she change” (R & J 154). In this part of the story, the women have just realized that Mr. Wright had killed the bird that Minnie so dearly loved. The author used the birdcage to act like a symbol of Minnie Foster's married life to John Foster. John killed the bird and ruined the birdcage, just like he killed her spirit and took away everything that she had loved. This symbolism proves the point that marriages are not always what they seem to be on the outside. Mr. Allen in “Chrysanthemums” has no idea that his wife wishes she could have a different life. Likewise, Mrs. Hale and other town people knew that Minnie was not happy, but had no idea that it had gotten so bad that she actually wanted to kill Mr. Wright.

The plot resolution in “Chrysanthemums” and “Jury” leave the reader with Elisa and Henry on a date and still unhappy, and Minnie in jail but happy to finally be freed from John. John is very excited about his date with Elisa and even says when the date has barely begun that “he should take her to dinner oftener” (R & J 331). He is in a great mood and joking around with her like he is the happiest man alive. This is why Elisa does not want him to find out that she is unhappy. “ She turned up her coat collar so he could not see that she was crying...” (R & J 331). This resolution sums up the entire story as a sad love story about a married woman who hides from her husband and the world that she is terribly unhappy with her life. This resolution is the perfect ending to show the reader that women are good at hiding their true feelings, even from their own husbands. However, the ending of “Jury” is a completely opposite resolution as that of “Chrysanthemums”. The author leaves us with Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters both realizing all that Minnie had been through, and understanding why she had to kill her husband. Mrs. Peter's tried to conceal the evidence that would put Minnie away, but the box , “was too big” (R & J 162). Finally, “Martha Hale snatched the box from the sheriff's wife, and got it in the pocket of her big coat...” (R & J 162). This proves that both of the women sided with Minnie and wanted her to be free. Mrs. Hale especially wanted Minnie to go free because she felt to blame since she never checked up on Minnie or visited her. This ending is a perfect look at what happens when people realize the truth about how a marriage actually has been. Minnie spent all of those years holding her head up, and never allowing people to know what was really happening behind close doors. This was probably because Minnie understood that society did not really want to know what was going on, but instead they wanted to pretend that everything is always great. The plot resolution in both stories give the reader a final insight in to the hidden feelings of Elisa and Minnie. Marriage is a very complicated covenant filled with trials and hardships. Many times society wants to think and believe that every marriage is blissful and full of love, however that

is not always the case. Women feel they need to always put on a happy face and speak positively about their lives, even when things are not going so well. Therefore, women may appear to be happy on the outside, but on the inside they are harboring negative feelings for their spouses.

Works Cited 1. Roberts, Edgar V., and Henry E. Jacobs. Literature: An introduction to Reading and Writing. Third Compact Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ : Prentice Hall, 2006.

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