Each person has his/her own perceptions of good things in life. The notion of goodness of one person differs completely from the other’s person idea of good. A person describes something as good when he/she derives pleasure or satisfaction from that thing. The short story “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck depicts the pleasure provided by the chrysanthemums to a lonely housewife. The protagonist in the story is a thirty-five year old married woman, Elisa. Elisa is lonely, as her husband devotes more attention to his work than Elisa. So Elisa seeks comfort in her chrysanthemums, which she regards as good things. The chrysanthemums aid Elisa in overcoming her loneliness and also provide her with a sense of achievement.
As her husband devotes most of his time to his work, Elisa tries to keep herself occupied by looking after her garden. Elisa is proud of the chrysanthemums that she grows in her garden, for they are the biggest among all the chrysanthemums in her neighborhood. Elisa’s joy and pride regarding her chrysanthemums is perceptible when the wagon-rider asks her about her plants. “Oh, those are chrysanthemums, giant whites and yellows. I raise them every year, bigger than anybody around here.” (Steinbeck). Elisa’s mundane life is brightened up by her chrysanthemums. She gains pleasure from the fact that her plant growing skills are appreciated by her husband. Elisa is contented when her husband says to her, “You’ve got a gift with things,” Henry observed. “Some of those yellow chrysanthemums you had this year were ten inches across.” (Steinbeck). The chrysanthemums aid Elisa in coping with her lonely life, as they provide her with comfort and joy, and a source through which Elisa displays her special skills.
Steinbeck, John. The Chrysanthemums. Short Story Classics. 2 August 2009.