3 – Kipling, Swift, Steinbeck

December 15th 2012

Poem:  If by Rudyard Kipling

Essay: Hints Towards an Essay on Conversation by Jonathan Swift

Short story:  The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck

In If, Rudyard Kipling says that if you do all the things he states, the world is your and you’ll be a man.

Jonathan Swift makes a list of the most common errors in conversation, as to refrain from committing them.

The Chrysanthemums is a story about a housewife, Elisa, who has a knack for planting.    A traveling salesman pitches her to fix her pots and pans.  She is resistant, so in order to catch her attention he asks her about her flowers that she has been planting and mentions that another lady up the road has many plants and flowers but was never able to plant chrysanthemums.

She loves talking about it and it gives her a sense of worth and strength.  She is excited to give the man some of the flower and explains carefully how they should be planted. She finds out that the salesman travels from Seattle to San Diego and back every year and is attracted to the lifestyle.  She even feels strong enough to be able to do it too for a moment.  She gives him some pots and pans to fix and the man is on his way with his 50 cents and the flowers.

Later she goes to dinner with her husband and sees her flowers thrown away on the side of the road and realized she had been hustled.  Her sense of strength deflates immediately.  She begins to cry.

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