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Fiction Analysis: The Storm by Kate Chopin

Kate Chopin was an American author who wrote feminist theme based short stories. The themes of her stories related to female sexuality, liberation and her works received extensive criticism from moral watch watchdogs of the day and her works were accused of promoting promiscuity. The paper examines one of her most famous works ‘The Storm; which explores the repressed sexuality of Calixta a married woman who finds liberation in the arms of her former lover when a passing storm is at its height.


The story by Kate Chopin (Chopin, 1892) is about a married woman named Calixta who stays with her husband Bobinot and son Bibi. Now Bobinot and Bibi have gone to the town to buy some groceries, leaving Calixta alone at home when a storm breaks out. Father and son decide to stay at the store till the storm passes. Meanwhile Calixta is waiting for them to return and is worried about the storm that has broken out. She goes out to gather clothes that have put up for drying when she sees her former lover Alcee Laballiere who seeks shelter from the storm.

The stress of weathering the storm is too much and Calixta succumbs to her passion and gives herself up to Alcee. Just like the storm that broke out without warning, consumed everything in its passion, so to the lovers unite. The storm dies away and Alcee rides home while Calixta greets her husband and son. She is transformed into a different and passionate person and the story ends on a happy note. Bloom (1984) has commented about the nature of the heroine Calixta.

According to the author, Calixta is not able to fulfil the society’s double standards of imposed sense of virtue even though her former lover Alcee regarded her as of inviolate purity. The meaning given by Bloom is that though a woman may not be a virgin, it does not mean that she has an impure heart. Elliott (1991) has commented on the symbolism that the author has used to portend that something calamitous was about to happen. At the start of the story when Bobinot is waiting in the store, he points out “certain sombre clouds that were rolling with sinister intention from the west, accompanied by a sullen, threatening roar”.

Elliot has pointed out the cataclysmic event that actually brought the lover into contact, rain is falling in thick sheets, meaning that nature and clouded their senses and then there is a brilliant flash of lightning that blinds Calixta “The rain was coming down in sheets obscuring the view of far-off cabins and enveloping the distant wood in a gray mist. The playing of the lightning was incessant. A bolt struck a tall chinaberry tree at the edge of the field. It filled all visible space with a blinding glare and the crash seemed to invade the very boards they stood upon. Calixta put her hands to her eyes, and with a cry, staggered backward.

Alcee’s arm encircled her, and for an instant he drew her close and spasmodically to him”. Faust (1983) is very critical in his outlook at the way Calixta has been portrayed and the way in which she offers herself to her lover. “As she glanced up at him the fear in her liquid blue eyes had given place to a drowsy gleam that unconsciously betrayed a sensuous desire. He looked down into her eyes and there was nothing for him to do but to gather her lips in a kiss. It reminded him of Assumption”. Faust has pointed out that it was in a place called Assumption when Alcee had first kissed Calixta when she was still a girl.

Elliott (1991) has argued that the passionate encounter that took place had more to do with Calixta’s repressed sexuality and feelings. She had never been touched by her husband or aroused so much as Alcee managed to do so in a few minutes that they were together. Elliot gives an important quote from the story as “When he touched her breasts they gave themselves up in quivering ecstasy, inviting his lips. Her mouth was a fountain of delight. And when he possessed her, they seemed to swoon together at the very borderland of life’s mystery.

He stayed cushioned upon her, breathless, dazed, enervated, with his heart beating like a hammer upon her. With one hand she clasped his head, her lips lightly touching his forehead. The other hand stroked with a soothing rhythm his muscular shoulders”. The author has argued that Calixta was by nature a passionate woman and though she had remained inviolate all these years, she had her private feelings that had been repressed by marriage. The storm assumes a symbolism in that it has made both the lovers forget their bindings and has torn the shackles of repressed sexuality.

Toth (1990) has argued that the story is not about wanton sexual behaviour but that it represents the sexual moralities and reservations of the era during which Chopin wrote her story. The author points out that so great was sexual repression of women in those times that Chopin was afraid to get her story published, afraid of the moral backlash and anger that the predominantly male customers would heap on her. The author has reported that the story was published after many years, after it was discovered in her private papers. CONCLUSION The paper has discussed The Storm, a short story that was written by Kate Chopin.

After a preliminary outline of the story, the paper has examined the theme of sexual repression and passion and examined various symbolism that are depicted in the story. REFERENCES Bloom, Harold. 1987. Introduction. Modern Critical Views: Kate Chopin. Ed. Harold Bloom. Pennsylvania: Chelsea House Publishers Chopin, Kate. 1892. The Storm. The Literature of the American South. Ed. William L. Andrews. New York: Norton. 1996 Elliott, Emory, 1991. ed. The Columbia History of the American Novel. New York: Columbia UP Faust, Langdon Lynn. 1983. American Women Writers. New York: Inger. Toth, Emily. Kate Chopin, A Biography. 1990.

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