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John Steinbecks short story The Chrysanthemums written in the late 1930s focuses on the central theme of feminism and how women are bound by society One may note that this story was written right around the time that the country was recovering from the Great Depression and womens rights were a hot political topic In The Chrysanthemums Steinbeck portrayed the struggle for equality through the protagonist of the story Elisa Allen Elisa wife to rancher Henry Allen is described in the story to be a woman of her mid thirties with a figure said to be blocked and heavy referring to her heavy gloves and shoes she wore to work in the garden When reading the story one may gather that it is about a woman whose niche is in the garden however there is a much deeper meaning that lies beneath A meaning that demonstrates that the antagonist is something aside from her husband or the stranger it is the male dominated society as a whole Strong notes of feminism are revealed in Elisas actions and feelings while reading of her struggle to try and define her masculinity in this male dominated society The Chrysanthemums displays a strong capable woman kept from personal social and sexual fulfillment due to the prevailing consumption of a womans role in a world dominated by men There are many crises throughout the story that illustrate and support the prevailing consumption The Chrysanthemums that Elisa gardens are her strength and pride They represent several different symbolic foreshadowings in Elisas life For example Steinbeck states she took off a glove and put her strong fingers down into the forest of new green chrysanthemum sprouts that were growing around the old roots This suggests foreshadow and illustrates how she is contemplating a new direction in her life She is looking for a change in her lifestyle The way that Elisas flower garden is fenced off and closed in depicts her
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