Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck are a story of a married woman who is leading her life in isolation with her husband. It highlights the struggles that the protagonist Elisa makes and how she suppresses her freedom, independence, and sexuality. The setting of the story is important as it symbolizes Elisa’s life and influences the way in which the story is told.
The setting of the story is Salinas Valley, an isolated place covered in fog. The story is set in the month of December where the cold and dry winter air prevails and there are little sunshine and warmth. The story starts out with a detailed description of the Salinas Valley where the couple lives. According to the author, the winter fog separated the valley ‘from all the rest of the world’ and made the valley look like ‘a closed pot’. The ‘closed pot’ actually symbolizes Elisa’s life; she is trapped within the confines of her own home without any freedom, sexuality, and appreciation. Also, the valley gets little sunshine because of the fog while the surrounding places receive it. This depicts that people surrounding Elisa like her husband and tinker are happy and enjoy their freedom while Elisa remains unhappy. The weather and the atmosphere are described as chilly but not totally without hope. Similarly, Elisa is full of energy, passion, and longing even when she is suppressed and unappreciated by her husband and other people around her.
Steinbeck, John. The Chrysanthemums and Other Stories. Penguin Books. 1996. Print.