The Chrysanthemums Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

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In "The Chrysanthemums," what is Elisa and Henry's marriage like?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Elisa and Henry's marriage is moderately happy but lacks a certain spark. How do we know this? Because Elisa is so susceptible to the flattery of a handsome drifter. Had Henry been perhaps a little more exciting, it's unlikely that Elisa would've responded in this way.

One gets the distinct impression that Henry, though not necessarily a bad man, takes his wife somewhat for granted. He's slipped too easily into a rut that is almost impossible to get out of. Seeing Elisa as more of a buddy than a wife, he's unable to cater adequately to her womanly needs.

One can't know for certain, of course, but the lack of children in the marriage would appear to suggest an absence of conjugal relations between husband and wife. Inevitably, this has created a physical and emotional void at the heart of Elisa's life that the presence of the handsome drifter all too briefly fills.

Elisa clearly wants a whole lot more out of life than she's currently getting and would dearly love it if Henry could be the...

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