The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck

The Chrysanthemums book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What effect does the visit from the peddler have on Eliza? Does Eliza feels better off or worse off because of her encounter with the pedller?

Expert Answers info

Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write2,050 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

Although Eliza has convinced herself that she is content with her life, caring for her chrysanthemums and her husband, the slightest encounter from the outside world gives her pause. The mild interest the peddler takes in her flowers would be dismissed if she had not been so extremely needy. As readers, we wince as Eliza gushes over her flowers and her pressing of the flowers for the peddler's other clients. We know that he is only buttering her up to make the sale, but Eliza is desperate for attention. Her marriage is, at best, tolerable. When she sees her broken pot and her lovingly tended flowers strewn on the road, it is as if the peddler has discarded her heart.

Whether she is worse off or not is debatable, though we certainly feel her pain. One could argue that she has been snapped out of her complacency, but the pain is so raw that this is hard to see.

Further Reading:
check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Unlock This Answer Now