The setting of the story is in the Valley of Salinas which is also a plot for many of the authors other early publications. The area of the valley is described as having small towns and farms and which mostly deals in economic activity pertaining to the agriculture sector. In this setting the lead character is put on a ranch as the wife of a rancher. The setting of the story sets the mood of the story and unravels the theme pertaining to the opportunities and the limitations present to women in those times and how they longed to be free and nomadic to discover the world.
The critical analysis of the story and the writing style depicts that the author has provided a description of how a female can have male as well as female personalities which are dynamic and changeable. Upon deeper inspection the story has strong notes of feminism in the central character Elisa Allen. Elisa’s actions and feelings reflect her struggle as a woman trying and failing to emasculate herself in a male dominated society. Elisa is at her strongest and most proud in the garden and becomes weak when placed in feminine positions such as going out to dinner with her husband. Steinbeck carefully narrates this woman’s frequent shifts between femininity and masculinity over a short period of time.” (‘First 1100 characters of Feminism in John Steinbeck’s The Chrysanthemums’)