Women And Society During The Early 20th Century

1774 words - 8 pages


Women and Society during the early 20th Century

Women always had to deal with all kinds of situations throughout history. Sex was becoming to be a woman’s way of expressing herself and in a way have control over certain situation Edith Wharton’s "Summer" and John Steinbeck’ s "The Chrysanthemums" show two characters (both of them women) struggling between society‘s rules and laws and their own believes and desires. Both stories were written in the beginning of the 20th century and both authors made it very clear that the women’s thoughts were unacceptable. While Charity Loyal in "Summer" had the ability to satisfy herself sexually with a city boy and go as ...view middle of the document...

She says, "She loved the roughness of the dry mountain grass under her palms, the smell of the thyme into which she crushed her face, the fingering of the wind in her hair and through her cotton blouse, and the creak of the larches as he swayed to it" (98). Charity lies in the grass almost hugging it. She shows emotions toward the grass (nature) that make it seem almost like a person. Moments like this one, made her feel free for a few minutes and those minutes were the happiest of her life.
There is also another time through the story where nature becomes important. Cynthia Bily, who wrote a critical essay on Summer says, "At the Jewelry store, where she [Charity] sees jewelry close up for the first time, she is attracted to a ’a gold lily-of-the-valley with white flowers’--an understandable attraction for a woman who loves the natural world as much as she does." Charity chooses the brooch that represents her. This, however, not only shows Charity admiration and love for nature, but Harney’s ability to "buy" Charity’s attention and eventually sexual intimacy. The Brooch place an important part in the story. She carriers the brooch everywhere and when she had to give it away, she goes back to the doctor’s office and gets it back.
Steinbeck also makes nature a very important part of his story. “Worn, Damaged bodies in Literature and Photography of the Great Depression” by Thomas Fahy examples the important role of nature in Steinbeck’s novels. He writes that throughout his novels, migrant workers depend on their ability to do physical labor for survival. Whether a man is good at lifting heavy loads, picking apples, or fixing cars, he typically measures
Galante Gonzalez, 3
self-worth in terms of usefulness and a strong body. We can see all the characteristics in Elisa. Steinbeck starts his novel by describing the setting of Salinas Valley, "On the foothill ranches across the Salinas River, the yellow stubble fields seemed to be bathed in a pale cold sunshine, but there was no sunshine in the valley now in December” (1874). Even though this story takes place during the winter and “Summer” during the summer, the short story also has a tone of happiness and calmness. Elisa also has a very interesting connection with mature. All she does is work in her garden. When the man in the wagon asked about her chrysanthemums, she started to explain how to take care of them. To show the man how important gardening and nature was for her, she mentioned her planting hands. Since he did not know what that meant, she explained it to him by saying, "It’s when you’re picking off the buds you don’t want […] you watch your fingers work. They do it themselves. You can fell how it is" (1878). She is one on one with nature. She knows how to treat the grass and is able to take all the buds without hurting it. In the beginning of the story she also said how when someone has planting hands, they know how to plant anything just...

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