Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 187
‘‘Odour of Chrysanthemums’’ focuses on a dramatic moment in the life of Mrs. Elizabeth Bates, the accidental death of her husband, Walter Bates. The story develops in three major stages.
The story begins with a description of the sights and sounds of a bleak mining village at the end of the mine’s afternoon shift. Mrs. Bates calls her son, John, in for the evening meal and provides a light snack for her father, a train driver, while chiding her daughter, Annie, about being late from school. She is also upset because her husband is not home from work yet, and she has a feeling he is drunk at the pub again. Mrs. Bates’s daughter directs her to begin the evening meal without their father and appreciates the flowers her mother wears in her apron. Mrs. Bates can only criticize her husband before her children and lament the misery and neglect in her life. She is a fretful, nagging mother, but clearly one who wants a better life for her children, and she doesn’t hide her outrage at her husband’s recklessness.
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