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The Chrysanthemums Summary
John Steinbeck

Everything you need to understand or teach The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck.

  • The Chrysanthemums Summary & Study Guide
  • 2 Student Essay
  • 14 Literature Criticism
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The Chrysanthemums Summary


First published in the October, 1937 issue of Harper's, "The Chrysanthemums" was included in John Steinbeck's 1938 short story collection, The Long Valley. In several significant ways, this story of an unhappy marriage is typical of Steinbeck's fiction. It takes place in the Salinas Valley of California, the "Long Valley" named in the title of his first short story collection. It concerns a married couple and examines the psychology of the unhappiness their marriage causes. Finally, it contains many vivid images of the seasons, weather, plants, and animals, all of which fascinated the writer his entire life.

One of Steinbeck's biographers, Jackson J. Bennett, has suggested that the character of the protagonist, Elisa Allen, was based on Steinbeck's first wife, a bright and energetic woman who gave up her career to follow her husband. Whatever her origins, Elisa is a woman who loves her husband, but whose life is narrow and...

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