Deconstructionist of Chrysanthemums Essay

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Steinbeck Analysis

A Deconstructionist Analysis of Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums"

Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums" tells the story of a woman's discovery of her own nature and the nature of the world around her. From the first paragraph, the story is rife with irreconcilable contrasts, and it is these contrasts in both the plot and the subtext that provide the dramatic tension in the work. A deconstructionist reading of the text reveals these contradictions and the tensions that they bring about.

The first contrast we find is in the setting itself. The first paragraph sets up the tension between the cold gray of the winter fog and the warm yellow of the fields and "sharp…positive yellow" of the willow scrub (p. 337). This contrast is reinforced by Steinbeck's description of the air as "cold and tender" (p. 337).

In fact, the contradictory state of "cold and tender" can be seen as the overarching contrast that pervades all aspects of the story, most notably the main character of Elisa Allen. When we are first introduced to Elisa, she is engaged in an act that is in some ways both cold and tender: the pruning of old growth in her chrysanthemum bed to make way for the new growth. She is hacking at the old chrysanthemum stalks in a way that is "over-eager, over-powerful," as if she is attempting to assert her authority over the world around her (p. 338). Later, however, we see a motherly tenderness in the way she handles the new shoots and the care and passion with which she hands them over to the traveling stranger.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Essay on Deconstructionist of Chrysanthemums Assignment

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How to Cite "Deconstructionist of Chrysanthemums" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Deconstructionist of Chrysanthemums.  (2010, October 12).  Retrieved December 6, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Deconstructionist of Chrysanthemums."  12 October 2010.  Web.  6 December 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Deconstructionist of Chrysanthemums."  October 12, 2010.  Accessed December 6, 2021.