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Word Count: 599
Feminism in John Steinbecks The Chrysanthemums at first glance seems to be a story about a woman whose hobby is working in the garden Upon deeper inspection the story has strong notes of feminism in the main character Elisa Allen Elisas actions and feelings reflect her struggle as a woman trying and failing to castrate herself in a male dominated society Steinbeck smartly narrates this womans frequent shifts between femininity and masculinity over a short period of time In the opening of the story Elisa is unnerved by the description of her clothing She wears a mans black hat pulled low down over her eyes clodhopper shoes a figured print dress almost completely covered by a big corduroy apron 295 When Elisas husband Henry comes over and compliments her garden and ability to grow things Elisa is complacent with him and very proud of her skill with the flowers Her green thumb makes her an equal in her own eyes When Elisas husband asks her if she would like to go to dinner her feminine side comes out She is excited to go eat at a restaurant and states that she would much rather go to the movies than go see the fights she wouldnt like the fights at all 296 When the drifter comes and asks Elisa for work to do she is stern with him and refuses him a job She becomes very irritated When he persists in asking her she replys I tell you I have nothing like that for you to do 297 The drifter mentions Elisas chrysanthemums and she immediately loosens up as the irritation and resistance melted from her face 297 The drifter feigns great interest in Elisas chrysanthemums and asks her many questions about them He tells her he knows a lady who said to him if you ever come across some nice chrysanthemums I wish youd try to get me a few seeds 298 Elisa
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