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Word Count: 1,610
The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck is set in the beautiful valley of Salinas California during a time when California was the land of plenty A place where dust storms and drought were unheard of where water was plentiful and the air sprinkled with the sweet smell of fruit blossoms A time when simple people farm the land and struggle to find a place for themselves in the world Elisa Allen is at a point in her life where she has begun to realize that her energy and creative drive far exceed what life has offered her Her husband Henry Allen is a well meaning and essentially good man and is quite pleased to be able to make a decent living Her marriage is reasonably happy and there is an easy banter between the two of them While they have settled into a fairly familiar and ordinary routine they are still responsive to each others sense of accomplishment and agree to celebrate with a night on the town Elisa is earthbound rooted securely in her garden but also held down by her connection to it Their house is described as hard-swept and hard-polished and is the only outlet for her talents However Elisa needs something more in her life than a neat house and a good garden Their marriage is childless and conventional and she has begun to sense that an important part of her is dying and that her future will be predictable and mundane Elisa is a barren woman who has transferred her maternal impulses to her garden a garden full of unborn seedlings On the other hand Elisa would never consider a lurid affair when a dark mysterious stranger appears at their quiet farm dwelling looking for work A complete contrast from her husband an adventurer who lives spontaneously a man of the road not bound by standard measures of time or place Since mending pots is a way of life he has
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