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The Storm by Kate Chopin

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leah hindman

on 12 May 2015

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Transcript of The Storm by Kate Chopin

Summary
The Storm begins with Bibi and his father, Bobinox, caught in a store wondering how Calixta, Bobinox's wife is at their house with a storm about to hit. Meanwhile, Calixta was too busy sewing to notice that there was a storm approaching. When she realized there was a storm, she quickly went to get Bobinot's Sunday clothes that were left out hanging to dry,"As she stepped outside, Alcée Laballière rode in at the gate. She had not seen him very often since her marriage, and never alone"(2.2). Alcee asked her if he could stay in her house since the storm was about to hit. Calixta begins to worry about Bibi and Bobinox who are caught out in the storm. She begins to cry and Alcee started to comfort her and it escalated quickly after Alcee kissed Calixta and it led to them sleeping together. After the storm was over, Alcee left and Bibi and Bobinox returned after to see Calixta preparing supper. Simultaneously, "Alcée Laballière wrote to his wife, Clarisse, that night. It was a loving letter, full of tender solicitude" (4.1) When she received the letter Clarisse was overjoyed and wrote to him about her friends and the children. And everyone was happy after the storm was over.
Background:
The Storm was written on July 18, 1898 and was first published in 1969 in The Complete Works of Kate Chopin. It was not published until 71 years after Chopin wrote it since women's work were not accepted at the time she wrote it.
The Storm
was written as a sequel to
At The Cadian Ball
written six years earlier and goes in depth on the relationship between Calixta and Alcee.
Introduction
Plot
Exposition: The storm begins and Calixta's family is separated.
Rising Action: Calixta's old lover arrives at her house just in time to be trapped there by the storm. Calixta and Alcée are reminded of their past flirtation.
Climax: Calixta and Alcée have sexual intercourse. "Alcée clasped her shoulders and looked into her face. The contact of her warm, palpitating body when he had unthinkingly drawn her into his arms, had aroused all the old-time infatuation and desire for her flesh" (2.16).
Falling Action: Calixta's family returns home just after Alcée leaves. Alcée writes to his wife and tells her she doesn't need to rush home.
Resolution: Everyone benefits from the affair, and no one finds out about it. "So the storm passed and everyone was happy."
Characters
Calixta, a housewife, is the closest to the protagonist within the story. She is described more by her physical appearance than any other character, and appears beautiful and lively. She is a round character.
Bobinôt is the husband of Calixta and father of Bibi. He's described near the end of the story as the "embodiment of serious solicitude" (3.3). He is a flat character
Bibi is the four year old son of Bobinôt and Calixta. Bibi is also a flat character
Alcée Laballière, a friend of Calixta, and a new secret lover too. Alcee is a round character.
Point of View
"The Storm" is written in third person omniscient. The reader emerges from the story knowing how everyone feels while the storm passes. "The leaves were so still that even Bibi thought it was going to rain. Bobinôt, who was accustomed to converse on terms of perfect equality with his little son, called the child's attention to certain sombre clouds that were rolling with sinister intention from the west, accompanied by a sullen, threatening roar" (1.1). The benefit of third person point of view here is the way it enables the narrative to move back and forth between two characters so quickly, creating a more three-dimensional image of what this present moment is like.
Characterization
Setting
The story is set in the late nineteenth century at Friedheimer’s store in Louisiana, and at the nearby house of Calixta and Bobinôt. It is a gloomy day, with a massive storm coming. "[Alceé} expressed an intention to remain outside, but it was soon apparent that he might as well have been out in the open: the water beat in upon the boards in driving sheets, and he went inside, closing the door after him" (2.4). Although the storm caused a murky scenery, everyone feels calm the entire time, "So the storm passed and everyone was happy."
The Storm by Kate Chopin
Tone and Style
Theme
Symbols
Irony
Discussion Questions
are on separate sheet of paper being passed around now
Short story
by: Leah Hindman, Royal Robins, Gabe Smith, and Kaitan Ireland
The Tone is Encouraging and/or Sympathetic
- The tone seems to sympathize with the fact that Alcée and Calixta's affair can only last as long as the storm itself: that when it ends they must part rather than fallng asleep together. When each character enters the story to speak or share her ideas, the tone medls around that person and provides sympathy for that point of view.
- Apart from sympathy, the narrator's tone in the story is one enabling encouragement The voice we hear seems almost to be encouraging the characters in their decisions to have affairs and keep them secret, or to even bring people together through the almost magical power of the cyclone that's raging around them.
Femininity & Sexuality
Marriage & Adultery
Women at this time are very sheltered
They were expected to stay at home
They were also not supposed to have any sexual desires whatsoever
"She was a little fuller of figure than five years before when she married; but she had lost nothing of her vivacity. Her blue eyes still retained their melting quality." (2.7)
This quote symbolizes Alcée's desire for Calixta, many years later.
The Style is rather Fluid
- Chopin's style in this story is one of fluidity due to her smooth and rapid transitions not only amongst the five characters' points of view, but rather through an explicit sexual encounter and its aftermath. In addition to negotiating a deceptive act, and keeping all her characters' secrets, she also moves fluidly back and forth between different kinds of language. Note the abrupt change of diction and vocabulary halfway through this passage. We move from Bobinôt's clipped words and casual phrasing – "w'at," "yo'," "oughta'" – to more complex, perhaps overly serious phrases like "pathetic resignation". The way Bobinôt speaks is very different from the way the narrator describes a scene.
Calixta and Alcée cheat on their spouses with each other
"As she stepped outside, Alcée Laballière rode in at the gate. She had not seen him very often since her marriage, and never alone." (2.2)
This quote is significant because it shows that this is the first time the two had been alone in a very long time.
The Storm
The storm is an obvious symbol
It is the event that causes everything in the story to happen.
The storm's passion represents the passion that Calixta and Alcée have for each other.
It forces Calixta and Alcée to be together.
"The rain came down in 'crashing torrents'" (2.19).
Assumption
Assumption is the name of the small town where Calixta and Alcée met and became lovers.
The name Assumption has a religious connotation associated with the virgin mary.
Dramatic Irony
Calixta:
In this sliver of Calixta's life, we learn many things. First off, she's a proud housekeeper. She works hard to take care of her home: sewing, doing laundry, cleaning, and making coffee and supper. Marriage seems to have brought her into perspective, to have grounded her in reality. At the same time, she hasn't lost the qualities that make her interesting and attractive – the qualities that still have the power to attract Alcée (and, presumably, Bobinôt).It seems like Calixta loves Bobinôt. She's worried for his safety when he's out in the storm, super relieved when he and Bibi return unharmed, and nearly ecstatic when presented with the shrimps he brought her. She seems to be making a real effort to maintain a happy family life.
But is it genuine enthusiasm, or an effort? Is she feeling guilty? Think about the way she almost performed her relief when Bibi and Bobinôt returned home: "[s]he sprang up as they came in" (3.4), "clasped Bibi and was kissing him effusively" (3.5), and "gave [Bobinôt] a smacking kiss on the cheek that resounded" (3.7). Then, at dinner, "when the three seated themselves at table they laughed much and so loud that anyone might have heard them as far away as Laballière's" (3.8).
Alcée:
He seems to achieve levels of sensuality he'd never imagined, giving a "response in depths of his own sensuous nature that had never yet been reached" (2.20). Like Calixta, Alcée doesn't seem to feel the same way with his spouse. Clarisse is relieved to have some time apart from him, specifically to spend some time outside their marriage bed. Alcee represents a way for Calixta to break free from marriage expectations, and to find "happiness" and "freedom".
Characterization
Bobinôt:
He's described near the end of the story as the "embodiment of serious solicitude" (3.3), and that seems like a pretty fair summing him up.
Another word Chopin uses to describe Bobinôt is "stolid[ly]" (1.5), which is impassive or dull. How can someone "stolid" compete with someone as glamorous and flashy as Alcée?
Bibi:
Although only a four year old child, Bibi is characterized as smart and wise.The first line of the story tells us that he knows a storm's coming. Like Alcée, Bibi shows wisdom in the eye of the storm, trusting calmly that everything is going to be all right: "Bibi laid his little hand on his father's knee and was not afraid" (1.5).
A major example of dramatic irony in "The Storm," is the fact that we, the readers, know that Alcée and Calixta have had an affair while their spouses do not.
Situational Irony
An example of situational irony is that these two people can have affairs, which actually improve their marriages rather than hurt them.
“The Storm” displays Chopin’s confrontation with the theme of women’s sexuality and the complexities of the married state. Alone at home, Calixta is about to shut the windows and doors against the rain when her former lover, Alcée Laballière, rides into the yard seeking shelter.
Full transcript