The Chrysanthemums

by: John Steinbeck

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained
1. The man on the seat called out, “That’s a bad dog in a fight when he gets started.”
Elisa laughed. “I see he is. How soon does he generally get started?”
The man caught up her laughter and echoed it heartily. “Sometimes not for weeks and weeks.”

Upon first meeting each other, Elisa and the tinker exchange a few friendly words that are slightly menacing at the same time. Just like his dog, the tinker is an interloper, an unknown and potentially dangerous person. Indeed, the tinker’s rugged appearance and slightly flirtatious banter stimulates Elisa, who flirts with him in return. The laughter with which he responds to her question is subtler than it first appears: he may be simply amused, he may sense an emotional connection between the two of them, or he may be matching her laughter in the hopes that she’ll hire him to do some work. This difficulty interpreting the tinker’s reactions persists throughout the story. In fact, it may be the mysteriousness of the tinker that attracts Elisa to him in the first place.