How does the author use setting to enhance the overall meaning and impact of "The Chrysanthemums"?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From the first line of this short story, it becomes very clear that Elisa Allen, the protagonist of the tale, is living in a world that is very claustraphobic and blocked off from the rest of the world. Consider how the tale begins and how even nature itself conspires to block her away from the rest of civilisation:

The high grey-flannel fog of winter closed off the Salinas Valley from the sky and from all the rest of the world. On every side it sat like a lid on the mountains and made of the great valley a closed pot.

The metaphor of the "closed pot" that is used to convey the impact of the fog that locks the Salinas Valley away from the rest of the world is used to create an intensely claustraphobic and isolated world, which of course helps us understand Elisa's desperate need to reach out and connect with another human being and try and experience something of the life that she has been separated from by her marriage and by nature herself.

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The Chrysanthemums

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