Aloha humans! I had to write a theme analysis essay for English and I’ve gotta say, it’s not that good. I completed the assignment and whatever, but it’s not my best work. On that note, here it is:
The Value of Chrysanthemums
John Steinbeck wrote the short story, “The Chrysanthemums” to teach the reader not to place the value of one’s accomplishments in the hands of another, especially a stranger. The story follows Elisa Allen, a housewife with a flower garden and a particular pride for her chrysanthemums. While she’s gardening before a date with her husband, a man shows up asking to repair some pots and pans for her. She turns him down, but when he appeals to her pride in her flowers, she takes him up on the offer. She later feels crushed when she spots the thrown out chrysanthemums on the side of the road.
Elisa is shown to be exceptionally proud of her flowers at the beginning of the story. In one conversation with her husband, when it is noted, “‘They’ll be strong coming in this year.’” “In her tone and on her face there was a little smugness” (2). It’s clear she puts a lot of time, effort, and value in her chrysanthemums. When other people do the same, she responds positively, as the repair man discovers.
When the man first arrives, Elisa wants nothing to do with his repairing services. However, the man is clearly practiced in using flattery to gain customers, as he shows when he “changed his tone quickly”(5) to match Elisa’s feelings for the scent of the flowers. He’s a forcibly agreeable person in those moments, with the feel of a man who the reader can tell is conning Elisa. Mrs. Allen, however, is blinded by her pride in her chrysanthemums and falls for the trick, hook, line, and sinker.
The man, having obtained the payment for repairing the pots, no longer has any need for the chrysanthemum shoots the poor woman gave him. It is foreshadowed when he says, “Sand? Oh, sure. You mean the chrysanthemums” (8). Although unclear to Elisa, it can be seen by the astute reader that the man completely forgot about the flowers and has no intention of keeping them.
Elisa, none the wiser, is spurred on by lingering pride. She dresses especially nicely for her date with her husband, puts on a slightly aloof air, and builds intense feelings of strength and self-confidence on the pride the repair man stoked. “‘I’m strong,’ she boasted. ‘I never knew before how strong.’” (9)
Then it all comes crashing down. She sees the discarded shoots and the foundation she built her confidence on crumbles away. She placed too much stock in this man’s, this stranger’s, opinion of flowers of which she was already proud. She let his careless playing with her emotions strip the value from the accomplishment of growing and tending her garden. “She turned her coat collar up so he could not see that she was crying weakly–like an old woman.”(11)
Elisa’s plight teaches us, as Steinbeck intended, not to put so much stock in people’s opinions of your accomplishments. An achievement still has value even if no one else sees the value in it.
So, yeah. Feel free to give feedback, I could really use it. It’s due tomorrow, so it probably won’t do any good for this essay, but it’ll be good for future reference!
Thanks for reading humans, love ya all! Byeeeeee!