The Chrysanthemums Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

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How does the setting in the first two paragraphs of "The Chrysanthemums" foreshadow what happens?

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The short story "The Chrysanthemums" by John Steinbeck tells of a couple living on a cattle ranch on the foothills of the Salinas Valley in California. The woman, Elisa, is thirty-five years old. She and her husband, Henry, have no children, and their marriage seems to have become dissatisfactory and somewhat formalized. She finds great joy in tending to her garden, especially her chrysanthemums, which grow large and beautiful under her care.

An itinerant repairman comes by in his wagon and stops at the ranch. At first Elisa is dismissive, but when the man expresses interest in the chrysanthemums, her attitude changes. She longs for the freedom the man experiences in his travels, and she gladly prepares some chrysanthemum shoots for a customer of his. In the end, however, as she and her husband are driving to town to celebrate a cattle-selling deal, she sees the shoots and soil by the side of the road. The man has thrown out her carefully prepared gift and kept only the pot. She realizes...

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