The Chrysanthemums Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

The Chrysanthemums book cover
Start Your Free Trial

For what purpose does Steinbeck provide such a detailed account of Elisa's preparations for her evening out in "The Chrysanthemums"?

Expert Answers info

Julianne Hansen, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookM.A. from Clemson University


calendarEducator since 2019

write1,908 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

Steinbeck's purpose in this section of text is to highlight the contrast between Elisa's lack of femininity early in the story and the feminine confidence the farm's visitor elicits.

Elisa's face is described as "strong" early in the text, much as her husband describes the life she coaxes out of the ground. It is noted that her figure looks "blocked and heavy." She wears a man's hat pulled down low, covering her face and further covering any hints of feminine softness. She wears heavy leather gloves over her hands which dig in the earth and whose "power" seems too much for the scissors she manipulates. This power likely originates in Elisa's frustrations in being nearly invisible in her society and even in her own home. She has no children. Her efforts to be her husband's partner in ranching are not appreciated. Her desires to see more of the world are touted as inappropriate desires.

Yet this strange tinker awakens a part of Elisa's spirit that has gone unnoticed and underappreciated...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 996 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Octavia Cordell eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)


calendarEducator since 2016

write1,084 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,150 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial