Figure 77: Essay Excerpt on “Chrysanthemums” (Plot Summary Critique)

Below is an excerpt that falls under the comment “Analysis.”

You may access the comment by clicking on the “Analysis (Glossary Comment)” and “Case Studies” categories or by typing “Task #3: Abbreviate” into the search box.

You may print the excerpt for class discussions.

Sample Excerpt

Steinbeck shows Elisa startled by her own whisper; she ran back into the house and prepared for Henry’s arrival and their departure into town. In this part of the narrative, Elisa is exhaustively making preparations. After her shower, “she puts on her newest under-clothing and her nicest stockings and the dress which was the symbol of her prettiness. She worked carefully on her hair, penciled her eyebrows and roughed her lips” (Steinbeck 226). Before, as stated earlier, Steinbeck shows Elisa as representing a man through her attire. Now the dress symbolizes, as the author states, her prettiness; or the more appealing, attractive part of Elisa. Henry comes in and comments on how nice she looks. She questions his motive and he returns dumbfounded. He comments again on how strong she looks and she replies, “I am strong? Yes, strong . . . I never knew before how strong . . .” (Steinbeck 226). It is clear that even though she concludes that she is strong, she still doesn’t feel it because she had to question first and answer later.

Figure 77: Essay Excerpt on “Chrysanthemums” (Plot Summary Critique)


The student provides ample plot summary, but little to no analysis.


1) What is the context of the whisper?

2) Why does Steinbeck present so much detail about Elisa as she prepares for her husband’s arrival?

3) What is the difference between Steinbeck’s presentation of Elisa at the beginning and the presentation the reader now experiences of her?

4) Does the dress only symbolize prettiness or indicate the separation of gender roles within the context of the literary work?

5) Elisa likes comments. Why?

6) Think about two contexts: the visitor’s comments and Henry’s.

Group Activity

Answer the questions above.

Develop an analysis based upon the questions.

Refer to Steinbeck’s “Chrysanthemums” for textual evidence.

Click here for “Figure 78: Removing Quotes Exercise.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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