Odour of Chrysanthemums

Elizabeth Character Analysis

Although the story is told in third person, the narration focuses itself around Elizabeth's perspective. Elizabeth is stern and practical in her behavior and appearance, with exactly parted black hair and dark eyebrows. She resents her husband, Walter, for his drinking and blames him for their failed marriage, though she is pregnant with their third child. Despite the resentment she feels towards her marriage, however, she remains a devoted mother, taking care not to upset her two children, John and Annie. After Walter's death, she comes to realize how her tendency towards criticism and judgment also contributed to the dissolution of their marriage.

Elizabeth Quotes in Odour of Chrysanthemums

The Odour of Chrysanthemums quotes below are all either spoken by Elizabeth or refer to Elizabeth. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Isolation of Individual Lives Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of Odour of Chrysanthemums published in 2008.
Part 1 Quotes

As the mother watched her son's sullen little struggle with the wood, she saw herself in his silence and pertinacity; she saw the father in her child's indifference to all but himself. She seemed to be occupied by her husband. He had probably gone past his home, slunk past his own door, to drink before he came in, while his dinner spoiled and wasted in waiting.

Related Characters: Elizabeth, Walter, John
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Odour of Chrysanthemums quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

"I canna see."
"Good gracious!" cried the mother irritably, "you're as bad as your father if it's a bit dusk!"
Nevertheless she took a paper spill from a sheaf on the mantelpiece and proceeded to light the lamp that hung from the ceiling in the middle of the room.

Related Characters: Elizabeth (speaker), John (speaker), Walter
Related Symbols: Light and Dark
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

"…It was chrysanthemums when I married him, and chrysanthemums when you were born, and the first time they ever brought him home drunk, he'd got brown chrysanthemums in his button-hole."

Related Characters: Elizabeth (speaker), Walter
Related Symbols: Chrysanthemums
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Part 2 Quotes

If he was killed—would she be able to manage on the little pension and what she could earn?—she counted up rapidly. If he was hurt—they wouldn't take him to the hospital—how tiresome he would be to nurse!—but perhaps she'd be able to get him away from the drink and his hateful ways. She would—while he was ill. The tears offered to come to her eyes at the picture. But what sentimental luxury was this she was beginning?—She turned to consider the children. At any rate she was absolutely necessary for them. They were her business.

Related Characters: Elizabeth, Walter
Page Number: 86-87
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.Lorem Lorem ipsum

"But he wasn't your son, Lizzie, an' it makes a difference. Whatever he was, I remember him when he was little, an' I learned to understand him and to make allowances. You've got to make allowances for them—"

Related Characters: Walter's mother (speaker), Elizabeth, Walter
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mo

When they arose, saw him lying in the naïve dignity of death, the women stood arrested in fear and respect. For a few moments they remained still, looking down, the old mother whimpering. Elizabeth felt countermanded. She saw him, how utterly inviolable he lay in himself. She had nothing to do with him.

Related Characters: Elizabeth, Walter, Walter's mother
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incLorem ipsumLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

They never forgot it was death, and the touch of the man's dead body gave them strange emotions, different in each of the women; a great dread possessed them both, the mother felt the lie was given to her womb, she was denied; the wife felt the utter isolation of the human soul, the child within her was a weight apart from her.

Related Characters: Elizabeth, Walter, Walter's mother
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Elizabeth sank down again to the floor, and put her face against his neck, and trembled and shuddered. But she had to draw away again. He was dead, and her living flesh had no place against his.

Related Characters: Elizabeth, Walter
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

There were the children—but the children belonged to life. This dead man had nothing to do with them. He and she were only channels through which life had flowed to issue in the children. She was a mother—but how awful she knew it now to have been a wife. And he, dead now, how awful he must have felt it to be a husband.

Related Characters: Elizabeth, Walter, John, Annie
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Then, with peace sunk heavy on her heart, she went about making tidy the kitchen. She knew she submitted to life, which was her immediate master. But from death, her ultimate master, she winced with fear and shame.

Related Characters: Elizabeth
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Get the entire Odour of Chrysanthemums LitChart as a printable PDF.
Odour of chrysanthemums.pdf.medium

Elizabeth Character Timeline in Odour of Chrysanthemums

The timeline below shows where the character Elizabeth appears in Odour of Chrysanthemums. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
Wife/Husband Relationships Theme Icon
The engine driver, the woman's father, leans out of the cab over the woman and asks cheerily if she has... (full context)
Wife/Husband Relationships Theme Icon
The woman brings out the tea and some bread and butter. Her father sips the tea appreciatively... (full context)
Mother/Children Relationships Theme Icon
Wife/Husband Relationships Theme Icon
The woman's father leaves, and she continues to watch the miners returning home. After a while, the... (full context)
Mother/Children Relationships Theme Icon
Wife/Husband Relationships Theme Icon
As the fire dies down, Elizabeth places a batter pudding by the hearth and waits. A young girl with blonde curls... (full context)
Wife/Husband Relationships Theme Icon
Elizabeth glances outside once more. Everything is deserted. The girl sits before the fire, commenting on... (full context)
Mother/Children Relationships Theme Icon
Wife/Husband Relationships Theme Icon
As the children eat, Elizabeth drinks her tea with determination, growing angrier. In an outburst, she says that she doesn't... (full context)
Mother/Children Relationships Theme Icon
Wife/Husband Relationships Theme Icon
As Elizabeth lights the lamp, revealing her pregnant stomach, Annie catches sight of the chrysanthemums in her... (full context)
Mother/Children Relationships Theme Icon
Elizabeth sews as the children play, and her anger eventually wears out. The children tire of... (full context)
Mother/Children Relationships Theme Icon
Wife/Husband Relationships Theme Icon
The children quietly prepare for bed, and Elizabeth feels anger towards her husband for causing her and the children such distress. After the... (full context)
Part 2
Isolation of Individual Lives Theme Icon
When the clock strikes eight, Elizabeth abandons her sewing and goes out the door. The night is dark, concealing the scuttling... (full context)
Isolation of Individual Lives Theme Icon
As Elizabeth turns to go, Mrs. Rigley stops her and says she'll go ask her husband, Jack,... (full context)
Life vs. Death Theme Icon
The Rigleys return, and Jack Rigley reports that Elizabeth's husband isn't at "Prince of Wales." He admits that when he left work Walter stayed... (full context)
Mother/Children Relationships Theme Icon
Wife/Husband Relationships Theme Icon
Back in her house, Elizabeth waits in the quiet. She's startled when she hears the sound of the winding-engine at... (full context)
Mother/Children Relationships Theme Icon
Wife/Husband Relationships Theme Icon
Walter's mother is upset and keeps telling Elizabeth that she doesn't know what they'll do. Alarmed, Elizabeth asks whether Walter is dead, and... (full context)
Mother/Children Relationships Theme Icon
Wife/Husband Relationships Theme Icon
Elizabeth thinks of how she might support her children if Walter is hurt or killed, while... (full context)
Mother/Children Relationships Theme Icon
Wife/Husband Relationships Theme Icon
Life vs. Death Theme Icon
Elizabeth asks whether it's bad, and the man responds that the doctor says that Walter's been... (full context)
Isolation of Individual Lives Theme Icon
Life vs. Death Theme Icon
Elizabeth prepares the parlor for Walter's body, lighting a candle and taking note of the "cold,... (full context)
Mother/Children Relationships Theme Icon
Life vs. Death Theme Icon
...mother to wail again. One of the men knocks down the vase of chrysanthemums, and Elizabeth replaces them and mops up the water without looking at her husband. As the men... (full context)
Mother/Children Relationships Theme Icon
Wife/Husband Relationships Theme Icon
Elizabeth goes immediately to hush the girl, telling her to go back to bed and that... (full context)
Isolation of Individual Lives Theme Icon
Mother/Children Relationships Theme Icon
Wife/Husband Relationships Theme Icon
Life vs. Death Theme Icon
When Elizabeth returns to the parlor, only Walter's mother remains with Walter's body. The two women begin... (full context)
Isolation of Individual Lives Theme Icon
Mother/Children Relationships Theme Icon
Wife/Husband Relationships Theme Icon
Life vs. Death Theme Icon
...finish washing Walter's body, Walter's mother begins to reminisce about Walter as a child, while Elizabeth considers how removed she and Walter were from each other, even when he was alive.... (full context)
Isolation of Individual Lives Theme Icon
Life vs. Death Theme Icon
Elizabeth begins to acknowledge her role in the dissolution of their marriage, realizing that she never... (full context)
Mother/Children Relationships Theme Icon
Life vs. Death Theme Icon
After the women finish dressing Walter, they cover him with a sheet, and Elizabeth fastens the parlor door so that the children will not stumble upon their father in... (full context)