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The purpose of this paper is to offer an analysis of the women characters in the works of John Steinbeck with a special emphasis placed on Elisa Allen the main character in his short story The Chrysanthemums Most of Steinbecks fiction is concerned with his native California with the Great Depression and how people endured it and with the deprivation that farm workers in the west suffered generally Beegel et al 54 Many of his novels and short stories take place in the Salinas area and his characters often reflect the values of the working people--a people willing to work hard required to endure adversity and simple in their needs and lifestyles Steinbecks Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath 1939 perhaps epitomizes this primary concern with the people and the land and how they lived their lives as farmers working the land Steinbeck 2 This essay will offer a very short biographical sketch of Steinbeck bringing out the themes that seemed to concern him the most It will then examine three women characters from his other works including Ma Joad and Rose from The Grapes of Wrath 1939 and Ruth Tiflin Jodys mother in Leader of the People 1945 These women characters have been selected because they help us to set the character of Elisa Allen into a context which emphasizes both her similarities to other Steinbeck women characters and those traits which make her distinctive as a Steinbeck woman It will be argued that Elisa Allens appearance actions and speech depict some typical frustrations of a woman during Steinbecks time but that she is unique in her attempts to liberate herself from Steinbecks typically masculine world Renner 306 As such Elisa Allen is Steinbecks attempt to explore the authentic woman and her world with all of its frustrations and yearnings for a freer existenceSteinbeck spent the Great Depression in a house given to him by his father in Pacific Grove California where he
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