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Word Count: 2,379
The Chrysanthemums John Steinbeck in his short story The Chrysanthemums depicts the trials of a woman attempting to gain power in a mans world Elisa Allen tries to define the boundaries of her role as a woman in such a closed society While her environment is portrayed as a tool for social repression it is through nature in her garden where Elisa gains and shows off her power As the story progresses Elisa has trouble extending this power outside of the fence that surrounds her garden Elisa learns but does not readily accept that she possesses a feminine power weak for the time not the masculine one she had tried so hard to achieve through its imitation The action of the story opens with Elisa Allen working in her garden She is surrounded by a wire fence which physically is there to protect her flowers from the farm animals This barrier symbolizes her life She is fenced in from the real world from a mans world It is a smaller on-earth version of the environment in which they live As Elisa works on her garden she looks through the fence out to where her husband Henry is talking with two men in business suits They look at a tractor and smoke manly things as they conclude their mans work As she looks out to these men we look at Elisa Although she is doing the feminine work of gardening she is dressed like a man She wore a black hat low on her forehead to cover her hair thick leather gloves covered her hands and clodhopper shoes covering her small womans feet A big corduroy apron covered the dress making her figure look blocked and heavy Unconsciously as she looks through her fence at the men talking business she is trying to cover up her feminine qualities She longs to be in their position and possess their characteristics As she does her gardening
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