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Steinbeck "The Chrysanthemums"

 
 
8th
 
Reply Wed 22 Feb, 2012 11:10 am
Question to any that have read the story.

"Why, sure, that's what I came to tell you. They were from the Western Meat Company. I sold those thirty head of three-year-old steers. Got nearly my own price, too." Said by Henry Allen.

Now comes my question is this referring to kids, man genitalia or what?
Help.
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Type: Question • Score: 1 • Views: 3,568 • Replies: 16
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contrex
 
  0  
Reply Wed 22 Feb, 2012 11:35 am
@8th,
8th wrote:
is this referring to kids, man genitalia or what?


Where did you get the idea it refers to either of those things? Considering the previous line contains this: ""Henry, who were those men you were talking to?", you are either a troll, or you are heading for an F, or both.




Sturgis
 
  2  
Reply Wed 22 Feb, 2012 12:06 pm
@8th,
It's about Ernest Hemingway and how he always longed to work on Cannery Row while looking at a pearl while driving East of Eden drinking persimmon tea from his Cup of Gold, and noticing a red pony approaching the wayward bus. It's a little known fact that Ernest Hemingway often awoke early and counted his chest hairs, then would sit and reflect on his times in Key West, looking out off the balcony at his adoring crowd.

Hemingway wore shorts a great deal of the time. Not sure whether that would have had anything to do with Steinbeck's writings though.

Actually the 3 year old steers are cows. They've been sold to a meat company which will guide them into the slaughtering machine and they will land on tables around the Salinas Valley area. Unless they somehow escape and herd 50 cattle rustlers into the slicing machine first (this would account for why you often find a random button or shirt stay in your cheeseburger at Jack-In-The-Box).

Or they may just be randomly whacked, sold as sides of beef and Lucy Ricardo will try and stuff part of one in the freezer before Ricky gets home.

Are these corn fed cattle? Where are the cattle kept? Do they graze or are they kept from moving about?

I would love to help; but, in this case all I can offer is that the steers are cows, I have read very little of Steinbeck's work, seen very few of the film versions of his books.

Are you being home schooled? Because that's about the only way I can figure you would not be having discussions daily about these plot lines.

Now, I figure at the rate you are going, in a few months, you will be asked to compare two novellas. The Pearl, by Steinbeck and The Old Man and The Sea by Hemingway. It's standard for most English classes to read and compare them...or at least it was at John Jay High School in Brooklyn for the term I was there (well, technically it wasn't a full term, I arrived late as a transfer, then finished the term out).
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Feb, 2012 12:22 pm
@8th,
Thanks. I had not heard of The Chrysanthemums, but maybe I can track it down. Sounds kind of like The Wayward Bus. A great little story about not much of anything, which is something Steinbeck was very good at.
0 Replies
 
8th
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Feb, 2012 01:11 pm
@Sturgis,
Thanks.
0 Replies
 
8th
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Feb, 2012 01:18 pm
@contrex,
This is about sex, affairs, ect. The male genitalia is referenced through out and so is the female. Kids are also mentioned without mentioning. I do not appreciate such rude replies either help or ignore. Thanks you for reading the story.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Feb, 2012 02:00 pm
@8th,
I would suggest you pay attention to contrex's comments.
0 Replies
 
contrex
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Feb, 2012 02:28 pm
I see what he means...

Quote:
"Scissors is the worst thing," he explained. "Most people just ruin scissors trying to sharpen 'em, but I know how. I got a special tool. It's a little bobbit kind of thing"


Younger people may not get the reference.

8th, quit being a dick. If you are serious about seeing male genital references, book an appointment with a psychiatrist.

8th
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Feb, 2012 08:18 pm
@contrex,
Well there are throughout. For instance "When the night is dark-why, the stars are sharp-pointed, and there's quiet. Why, you rise up and up! Every pointed star gets driven into your body. It's like that. Hot and sharp and-lovely." The act of sex is described as it is symbolized throught out. Since you know the piece then please answer my first question and what it is about in the reading. Plus I merely wish to know what that quote means. If you find it to be just a line used for a transition then say so if it is more then please tell me whar you think it to be. Thanks.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Feb, 2012 08:22 pm
@contrex,
I now see there's no cure for a for a mind like 8th's.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Feb, 2012 08:22 pm
The Inequality of Gender
“The Chrysanthemums” is an understated but pointed critique of a society that has no place for intelligent women. Elisa is smart, energetic, attractive, and ambitious, but all these attributes go to waste. Although the two key men in the story are less interesting and talented than she, their lives are far more fulfilling and busy. Henry is not as intelligent as Elisa, but it is he who runs the ranch, supports himself and his wife, and makes business deals. All Elisa can do is watch him from afar as he performs his job. Whatever information she gets about the management of the ranch comes indirectly from Henry, who speaks only in vague, condescending terms instead of treating his wife as an equal partner. The tinker seems cleverer than Henry but doesn’t have Elisa’s spirit, passion, or thirst for adventure. According to Elisa, he may not even match her skill as a tinker. Nevertheless, it is he who gets to ride about the country, living an adventurous life that he believes is unfit for women. Steinbeck uses Henry and the tinker as stand-ins for the paternalism of patriarchal societies in general: just as they ignore women’s potential, so too does society.

The Importance of Sexual Fulfillment
Steinbeck argues that the need for sexual fulfillment is incredibly powerful and that the pursuit of it can cause people to act in irrational ways. Elisa and Henry have a functional but passionless marriage and seem to treat each other more as siblings or friends than spouses. Elisa is a robust woman associated with fertility and sexuality but has no children, hinting at the nonsexual nature of her relationship with Henry. Despite the fact that her marriage doesn’t meet her needs, Elisa remains a sexual person, a quality that Steinbeck portrays as normal and desirable. As a result of her frustrated desires, Elisa’s attraction to the tinker is frighteningly powerful and uncontrollable. When she speaks to him about looking at the stars at night, for example, her language is forward, nearly pornographic. She kneels before him in a posture of sexual submission, reaching out toward him and looking, as the narrator puts it, “like a fawning dog.” In essence, she puts herself at the mercy of a complete stranger. The aftermath of Elisa’s powerful attraction is perhaps even more damaging than the attraction itself. Her sexuality, forced to lie dormant for so long, overwhelms her and crushes her spirit after springing to life so suddenly.

Motifs
Clothing
Elisa’s clothing changes as her muted, masculine persona becomes more feminine after the visit from the tinker. When the story begins, Elisa is wearing an androgynous gardening outfit, complete with heavy shoes, thick gloves, a man’s hat, and an apron filled with sharp, phallic implements. The narrator even describes her body as “blocked and heavy.” The masculinity of Elisa’s clothing and shape reflects her asexual existence. After speaking with the tinker, however, Elisa begins to feel intellectually and physically stimulated, a change that is reflected in the removal of her gloves. She also removes her hat, showing her lovely hair. When the tinker leaves, Elisa undergoes an almost ritualistic transformation. She strips, bathes herself, examines her naked body in the mirror, and then dresses. She chooses to don fancy undergarments, a pretty dress, and makeup. These feminine items contrast sharply with her bulky gardening clothes and reflect the newly energized and sexualized Elisa. At the end of the story, after Elisa has seen the castoff shoots, she pulls up her coat collar to hide her tears, a gesture that suggests a move backward into the repressed state in which she has lived most, if not all, of her adult life.

Symbols
Chrysanthemums
The chrysanthemums symbolize both Elisa and the limited scope of her life. Like Elisa, the chrysanthemums are lovely, strong, and thriving. Their flowerbed, like Elisa’s house, is tidy and scrupulously ordered. Elisa explicitly identifies herself with the flowers, even saying that she becomes one with the plants when she tends to them. When the tinker notices the chrysanthemums, Elisa visibly brightens, just as if he had noticed her instead. She offers the chrysanthemums to him at the same time she offers herself, both of which he ignores and tosses aside. His rejection of the flowers also mimics the way society has rejected women as nothing more than mothers and housekeepers. Just like her, the flowers are unobjectionable and also unimportant: both are merely decorative and add little value to the world.

The Salinas Valley
The Salinas Valley symbolizes Elisa’s emotional life. The story opens with a lengthy description of the valley, which Steinbeck likens to a pot topped with a lid made of fog. The metaphor of the valley as a “closed pot” suggests that Elisa is trapped inside an airless world and that her existence has reached a boiling point. We also learn that although there is sunshine nearby, no light penetrates the valley. Sunshine is often associated with happiness, and the implication is that while people near her are happy, Elisa is not. It is December, and the prevailing atmosphere in the valley is chilly and watchful but not yet devoid of hope. This description of the weather and the general spirits of the inhabitants of the valley applies equally well to Elisa, who is like a fallow field: quiet but not beaten down or unable to grow. What first seems to be a lyrical description of a valley in California is revealed to be a rich symbol of Elisa’s claustrophobic, unhappy, yet hopeful inner


http://www.sparknotes.com/short-stories/the-chrysanthemums/themes.html
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Feb, 2012 08:31 pm
@edgarblythe,
Now, there's something we can copy, paste, and turn in.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Feb, 2012 08:48 pm
@roger,
He would get caught if he copied that. But, it can help him get on a better track.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Feb, 2012 09:04 pm
I often wonder why students bring their assignments here, when it is much simpler to search the net.
8th
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2012 10:39 am
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe the reason as to why I a student personally posts mine is to gain different thoughts for when I read a story, giving me multipule answers. Sparknotes is not always good for such thoughts which is another reason as to why i post.
0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  2  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2012 01:37 pm
The story is rife with symbolism.

The steers are symbolic of Henry's impotence, steers being castrated bulls, with which Elisa is frustrated. Steinbeck notes that the steer are three years old which is a reference to children, or the lack thereof in Elisa and Henry's life.
8th
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Feb, 2012 10:37 am
@InfraBlue,
Thank you.
0 Replies
 
 

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