by John Steinbeck
The Chrysanthemums Summary
How It All Goes Down
At a ranch in the Salinas Valley, Elisa Allen tends to her chrysanthemums while watching her husband talk business with some men down by the tractor shed. She does her gardening work with ease and eagerness. She's a strong lady, and she has got planter's hands, whatever that means.
Her husband returns from his successful business deal, and he wants to go into town to celebrate. They plan to finish their work for the day and head into Salinas for dinner. With Henry off working, Elisa returns to her chrysanthemums. Enter intrigue. She's interrupted by the arrival of a stranger – a man who fixes pots and pans. He drives up to the house on a ramshackle wagon and asks Elisa for directions and work.
Elisa and the man have quite the conversation, and Elisa seems to develop a connection with the stranger (see what we mean about intrigue?). This connection culminates when she passionately tells the man about her chrysanthemums, and gives him some sprouts. Overcome with emotion, she almost reaches out to touch the man, who soon takes off, leaving Elisa all alone and flustered.
When he leaves, she returns to the house and bathes and gets dolled up for date night with her hubby. He arrives home and gets ready, too. As they head for town, she sees the chrysanthemum sprouts she had given the man lying by the side of the road. Soon after, Elisa and Henry's car passes the wagon and the man. After discussing their evening out a bit more, Elisa turns away from Henry and cries.