The Storm By Kate Chopin Essay, Research Paper
The purpose of this paper is to analyze The Storm by Kate Chopin. In this paper we will look at the setting, atmosphere, plot, character, foreshadowing, symbolism and theme of this story.
Setting and Atmosphere
This story is set on a sultry afternoon in south Louisiana near Biloxi. The body of the story takes place in Calixta’s home during a fierce summer storm. The atmosphere is charged with electricity and sexual tension caused by the storm and the unexpected arrival of Alc?e Laballi?re who Calixta had not seen very often since her marriage, and never alone.
Plot and Character
The main character of the story is Calixta a passionate young wife and mother. Calixta is a flat character because she is shown as a normal wife who has a brief passionate episode and then returns to being a normal wife and mother. We see that Calixta is a normal wife because she is performing normal household chores, she is furiously sewing in the beginning of the story and she had hung her husband Bobin?t’s, Sunday clothes out to air. Her passionate nature is shown in the lines “fear in her liquid blue eyes had given place to a drowsy gleam that unconsciously betrayed a sensuous desire.” (29) Her nature is further illustrated in the sentence which began “The generous abundance of her passion,”(29) this shows us that Calixta was a passionate woman. We then see Calixta’s return to her roll of wife and mother because after the storm she was preparing supper when Bobin?t and Bibi returned home and she was worried that they might be wet or hurt.
The second character in the story is Alc?e Laballi?re. Alc?e was a former beau of Calixta before she married Bobin?t. We are told very little about Alc?e, and given very few clues as to his character. Therefor I feel that Alc?e’s purpose in the story is to carry it forward. Without his arrival at Calixta’s home in the beginning of the storm the story would not have had a plot.
The two remaining characters are Bobin?t, Calixta’s husband and Bibi her four year old son. The story doesn’t tell us too much about these two characters, we see that Bobin?t is a considerate husband because after he realized they would be detained by the storm, he “purchased a can of shrimp of which Calixta was very fond.”(27) We assume he did this to appease Calixta because he realized Bibi was correct when he pointed out that “Mama’ll be ‘fraid, yes,”(27) when they arrived home late.
The basic plot for this story is Calixta’s passionate interlude with Alc?e during a brief but sever afternoon storm.
What I see as foreshadowing in this story are the references to the “somber clouds that were rolling with sinister intention from the west, accompanied by a sullen, threatening roar.”(27) This indicates to me that something bad was going to happen. This impression is strengthened by the fact that Calixta feared the storm.
Later in the story we begin to see that the event we are waiting for may be sexual by the authors use of words and phrases such as “spasmodically” and “palpitating body” both of which have sexual connotations. This is quickly followed by the sentence that Alc?e’s contact with Calixta “had aroused all the old-time infatuations and desire for her flesh.”(29)
The storm plays the central role in the symbolism. The storm is the symbol of the fierce sexual passion between Calixta and Alc?e which like the storm came in “crashing torrents, and the roar of elements” (29) while they prepared to make love. After they made love the storm began to recede as seen by the line “the growl of thunder was distant and passing away.”(29). Finally to signify the end of the storm and the interlude between Calixta and Alc?e we see “The rain was over; and the sun was turning the glistening green world into a place of gem” (29) as Calixta watched Alc?e ride away. This symbolizes the return to normalcy after the storm is over.
The chinaberry tree represents morality and the penance for transgressions. When the tree is struck by lightning it represents the destruction of morality and the suspension of penance. This meant that Calixta and Alc?e’s act of adultery would go unpunished, because they could temporarily put aside their morals without having to do penance.
The final bits of symbolism I see are the immaculate dove and the placement of Bibi’s bed. The sentence that stated “if she was not an immaculate dove in those days, she was still inviolate;” (29) this indicates that at the time she first knew Alc?e she was a virgin and thus untouchable. However, at the time when the story takes place we see that Calixta is a mother, this point is sharply reinforced by the fact that in her bedroom was “Bibi’s couch along side her own”. (28). This indicates that she is no longer a virgin and untouchable but a mother. There was nothing to stand in the way of their afternoon interlude except for their own moral values.
I believe the theme of this story is that unconsummated sexual attraction can erupt if given a chance. We are shown that Alc?e and Calixta were attracted to each other years ago but nothing every came of the relationship in the line “Oh! She remembered; for in the Assumption he had kissed her and kissed and kissed her; until his senses would well nigh fail, and to save her he would resort to desperate flight.”(29). Now that they are alone and isolated for the first time since Calixta’s marriage their passions simply erupted within the seclusion of the storm.
The central elements of this story combine to show us an interesting glimpse into Calixta and Alc?e’s afternoon interlude. It went further and indicated that this minor event may have released tensions and temporarily improved the lives of their