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Compare and contrast 'The Chrysanthemums' and 'The Odour of Chrysanthemums', paying close attention to the 2 main characters and say which story offers a better ending

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Compare and contrast 'The Chrysanthemums' and 'The Odour of Chrysanthemums', paying close attention to the 2 main characters and say which story offers a better ending Women in the 1900s were given little attention. John Steinbeck and D.H Lawrence however have chosen to base their short stories on a single woman character and around a type of flower, which is the chrysanthemum. Though written by male writers, both stories give an insight of the feelings and actions of a female character in that time period and how chrysanthemums can mean an entirely different obsession towards the two main characters. John Steinbeck's 'The Chrysanthemums' is about a tinker who confronts Elisa Allen while she was working on her prized chrysanthemums. Elisa was impressed of the tinker's freedom and his way of life. The tinker offers his service, repairing pots and pans, to Elisa, but she refuses at first. However, the tinker does not give up and tells Elisa about a customer that would be interested in her chrysanthemums. Elisa's attitude instantly changed and after her discussion with tinker she finds some work for the tinker to work on. ...read more.


Elisa 'raises' her chrysanthemums as though they were like her children. The flowers were her passion and pride and her flower garden was her prized possession that she was very proud of. However, she seems to want more from life than taking care of the garden, 'the chrysanthemums seem too small an easy for her energy.' This is further exposed when Elisa is awed by the tinker's freedom. In the other story, the chrysanthemums are described to be pink, wild, small and fragile. The flower reminds Elizabeth of the different episodes of her life with the husband. It is the symbol of their marriage but Elizabeth doesn't think the chrysanthemums are beautiful. This can be shown in her short laugh as she responds to her daughter's positive remark on the chrysanthemums. Just like her marriage. The chrysanthemums represent the love and bond between she and her husband that has long ceased. This can be felt with her description of chrysanthemum to Annie, her daughter, "... chrysanthemums when I married him, ... chrysanthemums when you were born, ... brought him home drunk ... brown chrysanthemums in his button-hole". ...read more.


In 'The Chrysanthemums', Elisa reveals her weaker side by 'crying weakly - like an old woman.' She has to settle for wine as it has become evident that she will always be trapped in her garden; the wine is as good as it gets for her. Elisa also learns through the hard way that trust should not be offered to strangers. However, in 'Odour of Chrysanthemums,' Elizabeth realises she has never really known Walter and is ashamed to handle him. She experiences fear for she is aware that she has no control over her destiny and that she cannot escape death. Both stories do not have a happy ending, but instead deal with different aspects of life. 'The Chrysanthemums' with society and trust, whereas 'Odour of Chrysanthemums' with fate and death. I feel that John Steinbeck offers a better ending because it teaches us not to trust strangers with ease and gives us the message that we should be happy with what we have, not to envy others. Then again, the ending in 'Odour of chrysanthemums' is also true but I feel that it is too harsh. It is a fact that every creature will encounter death but death should not be Elizabeth's or anyone's 'ultimate master.' Edwin 10K ...read more.

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