The Chrysanthemums Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

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What are the major conflicts in "The Chrysanthemums"?

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The opening description of Elisa strongly suggests that she is an extremely capable woman whose potential is not being fully tapped on the farm where she lives. The house is aggressively maintained, as are her chrysanthemums. When she and Henry talk about her gardening ability, she indicates that she could find the same success in their orchard, but the conversation goes no further. It seems symbolic that she is inside an ornamental flower bed surrounded by a wire fence, and that she expresses her distaste for "fights." Elisa may feel fenced in and have aspirations beyond her current situation, but she isn't able or willing to fight to achieve them.

In Elisa's conversation with the tinker, she asserts herself as capable and openly admires his freedom to travel at will. He argues that...

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