Hi. You're a woman in a Steinbeck short story. Sucks to be you.
We're not kidding. Being a woman in the world of "The Chrysanthemums" is no picnic. You have to keep house and look pretty, all while spending much of the day alone and cut off from the excitement of the outside world. Womanhood translates into being trapped, and it doesn't look like anyone's about to stage a prison break.
Despite what critics say, "The Chrysanthemums" only perpetuates society's stereotyping of women. Elisa is passive, weak, and takes no responsibility for her unfortunate circumstances.
What controls Elisa as a woman is not society, but fear. She's simply too afraid to break out of her role in the house, and lacks the bravery necessary to take responsibility for her life.