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Word Count: 771
In the The Chrysanthemums John Steinbeck portrays a womans struggle for identity We are first introduced to Elisa Allen a strong hardworking woman that is married and lives on a ranch in Salinas Valley tending to her chrysanthemums While she is tending to her garden a peddler who fixes pots and pans for a living arrives to the farm and cons Elisa into believing that he is interested in her chrysanthemums The strangers easily adopted sham and Elisas quick gullibility for it show the vulnerability of someone who is spiritually yearning and makes the ending of the story that much more tragic This sudden and brief encounter with the stranger changes Elisas life leading to new found desires and revelations about herself A symbolic setting relationship with the chrysanthemums and a struggle between masculinity and femininity reveal the protagonists inner search for her identity and happiness The imagery at the very beginning of The Chrysanthemums personifies Elisas emotions The high gray-flannel fog of winter closed off the Salinas Valley from the sky and from all the rest of the world On every side it sat like a lid on the mountains and made of the great valley a closed pot 267 The isolation of the inhabitants of this valley is emphasized right from the beginning This overwhelming sense of constriction is something the protagonist must struggle against in many ways It is appropriate that Elisa would look to a mender of pots to help mend her life of suffocation The peddler leads a life on his own terms going where his heart desires His way of life represents freedom freedom that Elisa desires To characterize Elisas lifestyle one would conclude that she wants more out of her life than what she has now The Chrysanthemums themselves are used as a symbol of Elisas life The flowers give her hope Elisa is trying to acquire control over her life because she feels trapped Chrysanthemums are
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