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Analysis

Literary Devices in The Chrysanthemums

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Setting

The Big PictureIt's hard to talk about setting in a Steinbeck story without zooming out to talk about the man himself. But we've already told you a bit about him in "In a Nutshell," so for now we'l...

Narrator Point of View

… Or so it would seem."The Chrysanthemums" opens with a wide-angle lens, and right off the bat, we're confident we're dealing with an objective narrator, who's far away from the character's feeli...

Genre

This story is pretty darn realistic. It's an average winter day at an average ranch with an average woman doing some above average gardening. Except for the arrival of the tinker, it's everyday lif...

Tone

Our narrator's a bit of a snob. We might even call him callous. He's not all that interested in getting touchy-feely, and he's definitely not up for share time. He keeps his distance, allowing the...

Writing Style

All right, all right. You get the idea. Steinbeck uses a few words to cram in a lot of meaning and depth. The whole story is like a dense and delicious brownie that just gets richer with every bite...

What's Up With the Title?

Let's be honest. Steinbeck didn't get a stroke of creative genius with this one. Elisa's chrysanthemums are at the heart of the story. But to be fair, he could have named the story "Elisa" or "A Vi...

What's Up With the Ending?

We don't know about you, but when we got to the ending, we were pretty blown away. It's devastating in its simplicity and its ambiguity. Let's break it down.Elisa can't be feeling too happy about t...

Tough-o-Meter

At first glance, "The Chrysanthemums" seems pretty straightforward. The language is simple, the dialogue is easy to follow, and it's quite short.But there are a few challenges along the way, mainly...

Plot Analysis

The Beauty Among the BloomsWe meet our lonely protagonist, Elisa, when she's among her chrysanthemums, waiting for her husband. When he comes back from making a business deal, they make plans to go...

Trivia

The official city flower of Salinas, California? You guessed it: the chrysanthemum. While we can't prove it, we have a hunch it might have something to do with the story. (Source.)When Steinbeck wa...

Steaminess Rating

We're being a bit conservative here. The MPAA might settle for a G.Why'd we bump it up? Because even though the sexiest things that happen are Elisa's almost touching the tinker's trouser leg and s...
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