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The Chrysanthemums Essay | Critical Essay #4

This Study Guide consists of approximately 64 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Chrysanthemums.
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Critical Essay #4

In the following essay, McMahan explores Elisa's sexual / romantic frustration in "The Chrysanthemums."

Virtually every critic who has considered John Steinbeck's short story "The Chrysanthemums" has agreed that its basic theme is a woman's frustration, but none has yet adequately explained the emotional reasons underlying that frustration. In fact, Kenneth Kempton would consider such an explanation impossible. He professes his inability to find any consistent motivation for Elisa's behavior, and declares the work "annoyingly arty, muddy, and unreal." But most critics who have examined "The Chrysanthemums" admire the story and find it meaningful. Warren French, after identifying the theme of the story as frustration, suggests that the central action concerns "the manipulation of people's dreams for selfish purposes"—an interesting and valid idea but one which fails to incorporate the obvious sexual overtones of the story. Another critic who overlooks the sexuality is Joseph Warren Beach. He...

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This section contains 2,722 words
(approx. 10 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Chrysanthemums Study Guide
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The Chrysanthemums from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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