The Chrysanthemums and Gender Expectations

An analysis of John Steinbeck’s short story, The Chrysanthemums.

The paper shows that in the short story The Chrysanthemums, John Steinbeck meshes the elements of character, plot, theme, symbolism, point of view, setting and tone to explore the life and attitudes of one particular woman while at the same time exploring the nature of gender roles in society. It shows how the story makes use of the reader’s expectations regarding gender to turn those expectations around, showing the woman as the strongest character and the most able to prevail over the weaker natures around her.
“The point of view of the story centers on Elisa. The story is told in the third person, but the narrator chooses to keep the focus on Elisa and her actions, allowing the reader to see what she sees. This makes her all the more the central character end emphasizes that it is her reaction that is important. The other two characters in the story, Henry and the stranger, are important as they interact with Elisa, usually isolated with her flowers.”