Monday, September 1, 2008
This short story by John Steinbeck is a portrait of a middle aged woman who lives on a ranch with her husband. Her hobby is tending her garden of chrysanthemums, which she cares for greatly. however, her garden is also more than a hobby. The Chrysanthemums seem to change in their description along with Eliza. At the outset of the story, Eliza is depicted as being "lean and strong". However, by the end of the story, she is quietly sobbing to herself. She is also described using more masculine terms at the beginning; terms such as "mature", "handsome", and "over-powerful". At the end she is "crying weakly" over her chrysanthemums. Similarly, the state of the chrysanthemums seems to reflect this change. They go from being healthy old stalks to discarded little sprouts. In this way, they seem to function as an emotional barometer for Eliza.