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“The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck is about being confident in oneself. The main character, Elisa Allen, met someone who made her feel confident in herself, only to break that courage later on. The characters have different personalities, and some of their traits contribute to the story. The conflict of this story is between Elisa and herself, man versus himself, even though the Tinker is the person who set off this conflict. The plot was most intense when the tinker was having a conversation with Elisa. John Steinbeck conveys a deeper and more thoughtful meaning through the characters, conflict and plot. Elisa Allen is first presented as a thirty five year old working in her garden. Her face has lean,strong features and her figure was blocked and heavy in the costume she wore in the garden. Her hands were covered in heavy leather gloves. Her outfit gives her a different identity, making her feel like more than just a woman. John Steinbeck describes how she worked with her scissors as “over-eager, over-powerful,” which symbolizes that she is capable of more, and is also showing that she will not be satisfied until she has reached her goal, she doesn’t want anything less. We know she has a talent for gardening, because her geraniums are as high as the windows. Henry Allen,  Elisa’s husband,is impressed with her work in the garden, and jokes that she should work out in the orchard, but doesn’tnever really means it. He was talking to the Western Meat Company, whom he sold thirty head of three year old steers to.  “Got nearly my own price, too,” Henry was proud of the fact that he nearly got his own price. This shows that he is fine without getting what he wanted, unlike Elisa, who is not fulfilled until she getsot what she wantsed. The Tinker is a man that came into Henry and Elisa’s farm road, barely rolling in an old spring-wagon. The wagon was being pulled by two mismatched horses, which shows that he is not well put together. Another way Steinbeck showed his sloppiness is by describing his appearance. He is portrayed as a stubble-bearded man. His dog iswas lean and rangy. The words that were painted on the side of his wagon were written in crooked letters; “Pots, pans, knives, sisors, lawn mores, Fixed.” The paint that was used to make the sign dripped below the letters, which shows an element of carelessness. When the Tinker was talking to Elisa he had enough confidence to lean against the fence that borders Elisa’s garden. This fence symbolised a barrier that even Henry, her own husband, cwould not pass. The Tinker had charm and persuaded Elisa into letting him fix some pans for money. He displayed interest in Elisa’s chrysanthemums. She opened up to him through this conversation. He took one of her chrysanthemums under the pretext oif giving them to one of his other customers/. He only took the flowers to follow his alibi, but when he left, he dropped the flower and kept the pot. When Elisa saw what he had done, she was heartbroken. In the end, Steinbeck depitcted her sorrow in the phrase “She turned up her coat collar so he could not see that she was crying weakly – like on old woman,” when he said this, he didn’t mean she became an old woman physically, he meant that she felt as though she has been through a lot, making her feel sad. The Tinker changed her in a couple of minutes, which is something Henry could have never done. The conflict of “The Chrysanthemums” is  man versus himself. Elisa is first found in the story wearing a costume which covers up her femininity. Her garden is a metaphor for her safety net. When the Tinker comes, her fence acts as a wall between her and the man. But when the Tinker notices that Elisa took off her gloves and making sure her hair looks good, he begins to lean over the fence with determination. He starts talking about his business, but she rejects him. He tried a different way, and started talking about the chrysanthemums in her garden, which made the irritation and resistance melt off of Elisa’s face. As they discuss the flowers, he leans even farther over the fence, meaning that he is crossing over her barrier even farther, and starts talking about a lady who wished she had chrysanthemums in her garden. Elisa offered him one of her flowers to take to the lady, which he had accepted, and invited him into her yard, and in doing so she lost her barrier. When she started to kneel to get one of the flowers into a pot, she lost her dominance. At the end of this encounter, the Tinker guilted her into letting him fix something she didn’t need fixing for money. The story ended off stating how she cried weakly, like an old woman. The Tinker charmed his way into her heart, but harmed her on the way out. Although the Tinker hurt Elisa, the conflict in this story is between her and herself because she was responsible for those feelings. In the beginning she was hiding behind many walls, but as the Tinker came along, he destroyed all those barriers, such as the clothes and the fence, and left nothing for her to use as a bandaid. “The Chrysanthemums” starts off with Henry Allen talking to some men. Elisa Allen is in her own garden, the only part of the land that she could potentially own, but Henry still owns it. Steinbeck describes Elisa’s image as blocked and heavy, mostly because of her clothes. Once Henry is done talking with the men, he comes over to his wife and compliments her crops and that she has a “gift with things”. He then continues to explain who the men he was talking to were. After that, he invites her to dinner, and teases her by saying “there’s fights tonight. How’d you like to go to the fights?” Once Henry leaves, she goes back to working on her flowers. That is when the Tinker came riding in an old wagon. Before she could see him, she could hear him. The sign in the side of his carrage advertized his work, and how he fixes things. The irony behind this is that he is supposed to be able to fix things, yet his transportation sounds like it will break any minute. The man was uneducated because on his sign he wrote, ” Pots, pans, knives, sisors, lawn mores, Fixed.”  When the Tinker pulled in, his dog and Elisa’s dogs sniffed each other, and once the Tinkers dog realized he is outnumbered, he backed down which symbolizes he is an outcast from society. The Tinker is described as a man with a grey beard and grey hair, but he does not look old. He asks Elisa for directions to the los Angeles highway, and she answers, “I think you’ll save time if you go back to the Salinas road and pick up the highway there.” He proceeds to tell her how he is in no hurry, and that he travels from Seattle to San Diego every year. If he has done this every year, he should know the way. He asks if she has anything that he can fix, but he keeps pushing for something. He noticed that that wasn’t working, and he tries his charm. He leans over her fence and talks about her flowers. Elisa offers to give him the buds of some of her chrysanthemums. He accepts the offer and she invites him into the garden. Elisa gives him instructions on how to keep the flower alive before he passes it on. He then indirectly guilts her into finding something for him to fix. After he has fixed the saucepans she had given him, his voice becomes professional and he is back to business. When she tried to remind him to keep the sand around the chrysanthemums damp, he forgot what she was talking about for a moment, which shows how he only put up an act. When he left, Elisa’s posture shows she is more confident, for example her shoulders were straight, with her head thrown back. Just after that she begins to get herself ready for her dinner date with Henry. As she is getting ready, Henry enters the house and asks where she is. She responds by saying, “In my room, dressing. I’m not ready. There’s hot water for your bath. Hurry up. It’s getting late,” and after she heard the splashing of water in the tub, she laid out a suit for Henry. This shows how she has changed since he last saw her. He used to make the decisions, now she is sutbly making them for him . On the way to the restaurant, she spots her chrysanthemum on the road. She knew it must have been the Tinker, and to make matters worse, he took the pot, showing how he valued the pot more than the chrysanthemums. A moment passed and Elisa and Henry started a conversation, in which Elisa asked, ” could we have wine at dinner?” Henry has gained the control again and is the decision maker. Steinnbeck ended the story by saying, “She turned up her coat collar so he could not see that she was crying weakly–like and old woman.” In this sentence, Steinbeck’s intention was not to say that she has aged physically, but she has aged mentally and emotionally. John Steinbeck included many elements to enhance the meaning of “The Chrysanthemums”. He has used his talent to convey meaning and depth through his characters actions, the way they speak, and the way they interact with one another. He created meaning behind the normal things, such as the fence. Steinbeck’s conflit was clear and visual. The way the Tinker toyed with her emotions, changed her, but when he had disappointed her, she lost her forwardness, her certainty. The plot strongly held both Steinbecks plot and characterization well, the time setting making the behaviour proper, for example, how men are usually more superior. Are there any personal experiences that John Steinbeck is tying into his story?

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