In The Chrysanthemums How Are Elisa And The Chrysanthemums Similar


John Steinbeck’s short story “The Chrysanthemums” is a powerful exploration of gender roles, societal expectations, and the human condition. At the center of the story is Elisa Allen, a strong and talented woman with a deep connection to her garden and, in particular, her beloved chrysanthemums. As we delve into the story, we begin to see striking parallels between Elisa and her cherished flowers.

Elisa’s Emotional Connection to the Chrysanthemums

One of the most obvious ways in which Elisa and the chrysanthemums are similar is in the emotional connection she has to them. When we first encounter Elisa, she is tending to her garden with the same care and dedication she would give to a child. She nurtures the chrysanthemums with a tenderness that is palpable, describing them as “strong and sweet” and “kind of wonderful”. This deep emotional bond is reflective of Elisa’s own desire for nurturing and growth, mirroring her own suppressed desires and potential for beauty and strength.

Both Elisa and Chrysanthemums Are Often Overlooked

Another significant similarity between Elisa and her chrysanthemums is their shared experience of being overlooked and undervalued. Elisa, despite her evident skills and intelligence, is marginalized in the male-dominated society of the story. Her talents are underappreciated, and her desires for fulfillment and recognition are often ignored. Similarly, the chrysanthemums themselves are often overlooked, considered merely decorative or unimportant. This parallel underscores the theme of societal marginalization and the undervaluing of feminine strength and beauty.

Elisa’s Growth Mirrors the Growth of the Chrysanthemums

Throughout the story, we witness Elisa’s yearning for growth and fulfillment, a desire that parallels the growth of her beloved chrysanthemums. Elisa carefully tends to the chrysanthemums, nurturing them and watching them thrive under her care. This reflects her own inner desire to grow and flourish, yet she finds herself constrained by societal expectations and limitations. As the chrysanthemums grow and bloom, so too does Elisa’s yearning for self-expression and fulfillment, ultimately leading to a poignant realization of her own potential.

Elisa’s Beauty and Strength Mirrors That of the Chrysanthemums

Elisa’s inherent beauty and strength are mirrored in the chrysanthemums themselves. Her vitality and resilience are akin to the vibrant blooms of the flowers. The chrysanthemums are described as “strong”, “tender”, and “passionate” – attributes that reflect Elisa’s own nature. As she tends to the chrysanthemums with such care and dedication, we see a reflection of her own longing for recognition, growth, and independence.


In “The Chrysanthemums”, John Steinbeck creates a powerful parallel between Elisa and her cherished flowers. Through this parallel, we gain a deeper understanding of Elisa’s internal struggles, her desire for self-expression, and her potential for growth and fulfillment. The story’s exploration of societal expectations, gender roles, and the human condition is enhanced by the profound connection between Elisa and the chrysanthemums. Ultimately, “The Chrysanthemums” serves as a timeless exploration of the human spirit and the universal quest for identity and fulfillment.

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