by John Steinbeck
The Chrysanthemums Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Paragraph)
Her figure was blocked and heavy in her gardening costume, a man's black hat pulled low down over her eyes, clodhopper shoes, a figured print dress almost completely covered by a big corduroy apron. (5)
Here's our first peek at Elisa, and she's not exactly a girly girl. Right off the bat, we know she's a character who will challenge the traditional ideas of femininity.
Her face was eager and mature and handsome; even her work with the chrysanthemums was over-eager, over-powerful. (6)
Note Steinbeck's word choice here. Handsome – not a word we usually see describing a woman. Why call her handsome? Why not pretty or beautiful?
"I wish you'd work out in the orchard and raise some apples that big."
Her eyes sharpened. "Maybe I could do it, too. I've a gift with things all right." […]
"Well it sure works with flowers," he said. (12-14)
Was Henry serious about letting her work in the orchard? Do you think Elisa would do it? It's interesting to think about this discussion in comparison to the next quote, where a similar dynamic resurfaces.