In John Steinbeck's Chrysanthemums what is the point of view?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Steinbeck's "Chrysanthemums" is a short story first published in an 1937 issue of Harper's, and later in a collection of stories in The Long Valley, published in 1938. It is believed by some to be one of the most important short stories ever written, especially in that there is a great deal of debate as to what kind of character the protagonist is: weak or powerful; eliciting sympathy or not.

The short story is about a woman named Elisa Allen, and it has been suggested that it may be based upon the Steinbeck's first wife.  It is a story about a young, strong and energetic woman who is an excellent gardener. After a chance meeting with a "tinker" (someone who fixes things) who passes by her husband's farm, she sees her life in a new and unsatisfying way. Though her husband seems to genuinely care about how she feels and what she thinks, the encounter with the tinker makes her aware that even though she is strong and able, she also lives a confined existence because she is a woman.

The information of the characters and the developing plot line come to us from an unidentified narrator. Therefore, the story is written in third person, limited. This means that the author uses the pronouns he, she, they, etc., in the narrative. "Limited" means that the author only gives us insight into the thoughts of one specific character. This is the most popular point of view authors use when writing stories.

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The Chrysanthemums

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