The Odour of Chrysanthemums is the story of Elizabeth, a young woman whose alcoholic and abusive husband, Walter, dies in a Nottinghamshire coal mining pit. The story follows Elizabeth as she prepares the body for burial. Her calmness and her ability to help her children through the tragedy are contrasted with her mother-in-law's anguish and hysterical discomposure. The story deals with themes of marriage, abuse, unhappiness, emotional connection, and bravery in the face of death.
"The Crysanthemums" is a short story by John Steinbeck about Elisa Allen, living in Salinas Valley, California, and her interaction with a traveler. Before heading into town with her husband, Elisa is confronted by a traveling man looking for work. As she works in the garden, he begins to speak of her flowers and she is charmed, offering him some work and giving him Chrysanthemum cuttings. Later, on the way to town she finds the cuttings thrown away and is heartbroken. The story presents themes of alienation, beauty and disappointment.