?The Storm? By Kate Chopin Essay, Research Paper
Is Bad Weather an Excuse for Deceit?
In the story “The Storm”, Kate Chopin plots a situation in which two people surrender to their physical desires. Chopin wrote fiction stories in the late 19th century. She was condemned due to the immorality presented in her work. At her times, woman was considered to be very innocent, and always faithful to her husband. In Chopin’s work one sees a totally different view of a woman’s behavior. She is not a popular writer of her era because of her crude works; the audience of her period could not justify her stories. In the story “the storm”, Kate Chopin by hiding the immoral behavior of her characters behind the fear of bad weather is being ironic.
The writer tries really hard to convince her readers that Calixta (the female character) was a victim of her fear of the bad storm. Kate uses phrases such as “exclaimed”, “put her hands to her eyes, and with a cry” etc. to gather sympathy from her readers for Calixta. Right before the act of betrayal comes in the plot, the heroine is worried about her child and that instead of being one of the pathos makes her look guiltier. As Calixta remembers that she is a mother of a child still it does not stop her from having sex with Alcee. Kate describes in detail the destruction the storm causes, “The rain was coming down . . . the very boards they stood upon” presenting a frightful atmosphere, but she is not able to justify Calixta’s cheating on her husband or Alcee with his wife.
Kate is being ironic in many instances during the plot of the story. For example, the four-year-old child of Calixta, Bibi is presented to be brave and not scared of the storm “Bibi laid his little hand on his father’s knee and was not afraid” compared to Calixta, a grown up who looses her self-esteem due to her inner fear. Another example is when the writer describes the emotions in Calixta’s eyes during the act of betrayal, “As she glanced up at him the fear in her liquid blue eyes had given place to a drowsy glean that unconsciously betrayed a sensuous desire”. It is ironic in this case because as the writer builds up the plot, she constantly reminds her audience that ‘the storm’ is very destructive and scary, but later the reader finds that the fear is gone and is replaced by desire. It makes one think that the storm does not only destroy the characters’ belongings; it destroys the trust and faith on which their marriages were based on.
Kate makes her audience go off the track by describing the act of deception. She makes her readers forget that Calixta and Alcee are doing something wrong by getting in to details of their sexual experience. However, if one reads closely they would find that she is being sarcastic again when she makes the remark “without guile or trickery”. It makes the reader realize that at the ‘Assumption’ Alcee does not have Calixta because she was a maiden, but now that both of them are married (to different people), does that allow him to have her and is it not still ‘guile’?
Later in the story, Kate makes the guilty characters look resolute and which made her audience exclaim in detest. After Calixta and Alcee had sex they do not feel guilty or even regretful, instead Kate describes them to be delightful. “Calixta, on the gallery, watched Alcee ride away. He turned and smiled at her with a beaming face; and she lifted her pretty chin in the air and laughed aloud.” After Calixta’s husband and her child returns home she is satisfied that they return safely but she does not show any regret on what she has done. She is described to be very cheerful and full of energy. Her husband thought she would be worried sick because of the storm and had brought her a can of shrimps to make her feel better. Kate when says that “ . . . they laughed so much and so loud that anyone might have heard them as far away as Laballiere’s” is being cynical here. Cynical either because after having sex with Alcee, Calixta is described to be so happy as if she was in a unhappy marriage before, or because Kate is showing to her audience that a secret affair is what makes one more happy than a trustworthy marriage.
Meanwhile Alcee is described to be happy too, and he writes to his wife and tells her that she can stay longer at Bilioxi. When his wife receives the letter she is satisfied because she actually taking a vacation from her marital life. “And the first free breath since her marriage seemed to restore the pleasant liberty of her maiden days. Devoted as she was to her husband, their intimate conjugal life was something which she was more than willing to forego for a while.” Kate is illustrating here that people in her era were not happy in their marriages and they pursuit happiness elsewhere. In the end she uses irony again “So the storm passed and everyone was happy”, but awareness that comes to a reader is that everyone was happy but they were not happy with their spouses.
In the story “the storm”, Kate Chopin is actually presenting the truth. She is describing that in her era people were not faithful and the women were not as innocent as they were portrayed in the society. She does not directly give us the situations but instead she uses irony to prove her point.