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john steinbeck

             John Steinbeck utilizes two main characters to contrast different forms of strength in the short story " The Chrysanthemums". Steinbeck uses his female protagonist, Elisa, is a middle-aged woman who is beginning to question how strong she is as a female in a society where males are viewed as the stronger sex. Steinbeck portray Elisa's transition of becoming and wanting to be a sturdy independent woman to realizing that she isn't as strong as she had contemplated, by exercising her underlying feelings of vulnerability, a result if her superficial might. Steinbeck also uses a traveling repair man to present strength as a modest attribute that takes place on the inside of a human being rather than a boastful strength that's only exists on the outside, even though Steinbeck portrays it in a cunning way.
             Steinbeck shows Elisa's physically robust characteristics in the line "Her face was lean and strong and her eyes were as clear as water. Her figure looked blocked and heavy in her gardening costume, a man's black hat pulled low down over her eyes- This manly description proves in contrast to her activity of cutting down the delicate chrysanthemum stems. Steinbeck points this out by saying " The chrysanthemum stems seemed too small and easy for her energy." Steinbeck also demonstrates how hard Elisa is trying to be masculine by referring to her gardening clothes as a costume and by pointing out that the hat she was wearing was a man's.
             In the middle of the story Elisa meets the "fix-it man". Speaking with him gives Elisa a chance to express her skill with chrysanthemums which makes her feel powerful and clever in her expertise of gardening. As Elisa is describing her mechanical way of getting rid of the old buds off her chrysanthemums she sounds like she could burst with enthusiasm and craze. Realizing how magnificent her ability is, Elisa is filled with assurance and becomes arrogant with her self-righteous discovery.

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