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The Chryssanthemums

  • Date Submitted: 07/21/2010 12:59 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 77.7 
  • Words: 1985
  • Essay Grade: no grades
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The story takes place in the Salinas Valley of California on a gray December day. Elisa Allen, the 35-year-old wife of a foothill rancher, is working in her flower garden. As she prepares to plant some new chrysanthemums, she watches her husband, Henry, talking with two men in suits down in the tractor shed. Elisa is cutting down the previous year's chrysanthemum stalks and examining the plants for insects and other pests.
The white farmhouse where Elisa and Henry live is very neat with geraniums growing high around its polished windows. Even the doormat is clean and clear of mud. There is little work to do on the ranch in December. The hay has been cut and stored away, and the orchards have already been plowed up in expectation of rain. The cattle are ranging over the foothill slopes and growing shaggy in their winter coats.
Elisa is snipping away powerfully at the chrysanthemums with little sharp scissors. She is a strong woman with a lot of energy, and the task she has set herself does not require anything close to the limits of her strength. She looks for cutworms and sow bugs among the plant stems, but she knows she will not find any because she destroys them before they become established.
When her husband is finished talking with the men he joins her in her garden. He leans on a wire fence designed to keep out the cattle, chickens and dogs. He watches her working and comments on the strength of the new growth. Both Elisa and Henry take pride in her chrysanthemums, the strongest and largest in the neighborhood. Henry comments that her talent in growing things is a gift and wishes that she would work in the orchard to grow apples as large as her chrysanthemums. Elisa replies that she would be able to do that. She says she has "planter's hands" just like her mother before her.
Elisa asks Henry about his conversation with the men at the tractor shed. He tells her that there were buyers for the Western Meat Company and that he sold them thirty steers at...

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