The Chrysanthemums

Henry Allen Character Analysis

The husband of Elisa Allen, Henry is a farmer living in the Salinas Valley of California during the 1930’s. Henry provides Elisa with a comfortable life (his farming business seems to do well, as he negotiates the sale of thirty head of cattle with representatives from the Western Meat Company at the start of the story) and he appears to be a kind, if traditionally-minded, husband; nevertheless, Elisa is clearly unhappy in their marriage. Unlike Elisa, Henry is content with society’s prescribed gender roles and expects nothing from his wife outside of her responsibilities as a homemaker. In addition to ignoring Elisa’s professional capabilities, Henry also neglects Elisa emotionally and sexually, evident by their childless marriage and Elisa’s immediate attraction to the tinker as soon as he expresses the slightest attention to her personal interests and desires. In many ways, Henry’s character serves as a personification of the American patriarchy—he believes very little in Elisa and expects even less. Ironically, despite being her husband, Henry knows little about Elisa, including who she is and what she is capable of.

Henry Allen Quotes in The Chrysanthemums

The The Chrysanthemums quotes below are all either spoken by Henry Allen or refer to Henry Allen. 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:
Gender, Power, and Ambition Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Chrysanthemums published in 1956.
The Chrysanthemums Quotes

“You’ve got a gift with things,” Henry observed. “Some of those yellow chrysanthemums you had this year were ten inches across. I wish you’d work out in the orchard and raise some apples that big.”

Related Characters: Henry Allen (speaker), Elisa Allen
Related Symbols: Chrysanthemums
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

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

Plus so much more...

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

Her eyes sharpened. “Maybe I could do it, too. I’ve a gift with things, all right. My mother had it. She could stick anything in the ground and make it grow. She said it was having planters’ hands that knew how to do it.”

Related Characters: Elisa Allen (speaker), Henry Allen
Page Number: 2-3
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

She relaxed limply in the seat. “Oh, no. No. I don’t want to go. I’m sure I don’t.” Her face was turned away from him. “It will be enough if we can have wine. It will be plenty.” She turned up her coat collar so he could not see that she was crying weakly – like an old woman.

Related Characters: Elisa Allen (speaker), Henry Allen
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Get the entire The Chrysanthemums LitChart as a printable PDF.
The chrysanthemums.pdf.medium

Henry Allen Character Timeline in The Chrysanthemums

The timeline below shows where the character Henry Allen appears in The Chrysanthemums. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Chrysanthemums
Desolation and Fertility Theme Icon
...a slight southwestern breeze suggests rain despite the heavy fog. The valley is home to Henry and Elisa Allen’s farm, which has entered a period of “quiet and waiting.”  (full context)
Gender, Power, and Ambition Theme Icon
While Henry is across the field talking to two men in business suits, Elisa busies herself in... (full context)
Gender, Power, and Ambition Theme Icon
Sex and Sexuality Theme Icon
As Henry approaches the garden, Elisa is startled by his sudden appearance. He compliments Elisa’s ability to... (full context)
Gender, Power, and Ambition Theme Icon
Sex and Sexuality Theme Icon
Henry suggests dinner in Salinas and perhaps a picture show. He even suggests that they attend... (full context)
Gender, Power, and Ambition Theme Icon
Sex and Sexuality Theme Icon
Deception and Authenticity Theme Icon
Elisa runs hurriedly into the house to ready herself for her date with Henry. She checks the water tank for hot water and scrubs herself clean with a pumice... (full context)
Gender, Power, and Ambition Theme Icon
Sex and Sexuality Theme Icon
Deception and Authenticity Theme Icon
As Henry takes a bath, Elisa sets his dark suit out on the bed, including his shirt,... (full context)
Gender, Power, and Ambition Theme Icon
Sex and Sexuality Theme Icon
Deception and Authenticity Theme Icon
As Henry loudly exits the house, he is caught off-guard by Elisa’s appearance, remarking, “Why—why, Elisa. You... (full context)
Gender, Power, and Ambition Theme Icon
Elisa hears Henry drive to the gate, yet she takes a long time putting on her hat. She... (full context)
Gender, Power, and Ambition Theme Icon
Deception and Authenticity Theme Icon
As Elisa and Henry drive into Salinas, Elisa notices a small speck in the road and instantly knows what... (full context)
Gender, Power, and Ambition Theme Icon
Desolation and Fertility Theme Icon
Deception and Authenticity Theme Icon
Elisa loudly tells Henry that it will be nice to have a good dinner out. Noticing the change in... (full context)
Gender, Power, and Ambition Theme Icon
Sex and Sexuality Theme Icon
Deception and Authenticity Theme Icon
...she really doesn’t want to go to the fights and turns her face away from Henry. Hiding behind her coat collar so that he cannot see her, Elisa cries “weakly—like an... (full context)