February 15, 2013
Steinbeck and His Approach to Men and Women
“I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.” In John Steinbeck’s works, The Grapes of Wrath and “The Chrysanthemums,” men are shown as carefree roles, who do not appreciate possessions or things they have worked hard for. The women characters in Steinbeck’s works come across as caring, or maybe even care about things too much, and they also take pride in what they have earned. Steinbeck portrays throughout his works, such as The Grapes of Wrath and “The Chrysanthemums,” how differently men and women approach life and the hardships that come along with it.
In Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, he illustrates Tom Joad, a man who has been in jail for four years and only looks at the present; he pays no attention to the future and what it might hold for him. On the other hand, is Ma Joad, Tom’s mother, who is a strong-willed woman that pays attention to the future and how it can affect her and her family. In chapter nine of this novel, Ma acts uncertain about the trip to California they are about to venture on, and she wants to make sure it is everything she hopes it will be (pg. 705-706). She starts to worry about how it is going to be. She goes to her child: “How far you think it is, Tom...how long ya s’pose it’ll take to go that far, Tommy (pg. 706)?” Tom acts completely opposite. It does not bother him to think about it and it hardly worries him. “Look, Ma, stop your worryin’ (pg 706).” Steinbeck depicts the difference in the way that men and women take on certain challenges, such as moving and the obstacles they face while doing this.
In the short story “The Chrysanthemums,” Steinbeck writes about a hard-working woman, Elisa, who takes care of her chrysanthemums that she holds much pride in. He also presents the male characters, Henry and the traveler. Henry shows no pride in his hard work and the things he has accomplished. He gives up his cattle like it did not mean anything to him, after he has raised them and worked hard for them. “I sold those thirty head of three-year-old steers. Got nearly my own price, too (pg 712).” The traveler is a carefree man, who does not even show pride in himself; he is selfish and only cares about the money. He comes across Elisa, and takes advantage of her flowers by taking interest in them, when he only wanted to gain work