The Storm (short story)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"The Storm"
Author Kate Chopin
Country United States
Genre(s) Romance
Published in The Complete Works of Kate Chopin
Publisher Louisiana State University Press
Publication date 1969
Preceded by "At the Cadian Ball"

"The Storm" is a short story written by the American writer Kate Chopin in 1898. The story takes place during the 19th century in the South of the United States, where storms are frequent and dangerous. It did not appear in print in Chopin's lifetime, but it was published in The Complete Works of Kate Chopin in 1969.[1] This story is the sequel to Chopin's "At the 'Cadian Ball".[2]

Plot summary[edit]

Bobinôt and his four-year-old son, Bibi, are at Friedheimer's store when a particularly violent storm begins. The two decide to remain at the store until the storm passes. Bobinôt then decides to buy a can of shrimp for his wife, Calixta, while he waits with his son for the storm to abate.

Meanwhile, back at their house, Bobinôt's wife Calixta is so occupied with her sewing that at first she does not notice the incoming storm. Finally she notices that it is growing darker outside, so she decides to shut the windows and retrieve Bobinôt's and Bibi's clothes, which are hanging outside. As she goes outside to retrieve the clothes, she notices Alcée, one of her former beaus who has ridden up to the house in the hopes of riding out the storm with her.

As the storm worsens, Calixta invites Alcée into her home; they wait for it to pass by. Alcée then helps Calixta get some clothes off the line. He is reluctant to come in and stays outside until it becomes apparent that the storm is not going to let up. Calixta gathers up the lengths of cotton sheet she had been sewing while Alcée takes a seat in the rocker. Calixta goes over to the window and observes the intensity of the storm, which disturbs her so much she nearly falls. Alcée then attempts to comfort her and in doing so is reminded of the passion they once felt for each other. Alcée reminds Calixta of their time at "Assumption," and she immediately remembers.[3] At first, Calixta is standoffish when Alcée tries to comfort her, but she can't resist him as she too becomes overwhelmed with passion. As the storm increases in intensity, so does the passion of the two former lovers. The sexual encounter between the pair ends at the same time as the storm. Alcée and Calixta go their separate ways once more, and both are left with feelings of rejuvenation and newfound happiness.

Bobinôt and Bibi return from the grocery store, and Calixta immediately embraces them. However, they are expecting a more intimidating approach from Calixta, considering how dirty Bibi is from their journey home. Bobinôt presents his gift of the can of shrimp to his wife, and she remarks that they will feast that night. Meanwhile, Alcée writes a loving letter to his wife, Clarisse, encouraging her to stay in Biloxi with their children as long as she needs. He notes that their well-being is more important than the anxiety from separation that he endures. Clarisse is "charmed" by the letter and is happy in Biloxi because she feels free, as if she were a maiden again. She explains how although she is "devoted" to her husband, she isn't in a rush to go back to her married life. The story ends with the short line, "So the storm passed and every one was happy".[4][5]

Characters[edit]

  • Calixta - The wife of Bobinôt and the mother of Bibi. In the story, she has an affair with Alcée, a former lover and who is now married.
  • Alcée - The husband of Clarisse and was Calixta's former beau. He has an affair with Calixta in the story.
  • Bobinôt - The husband of Calixta and the father of Bibi.
  • Bibi - The four-year-old son of Calixta and Bobinôt.
  • Clarisse - Alcée's wife, who is away with the babies at Biloxi.

Analysis[edit]

"The Storm" is a story of sexual desire, a topic not publicly discussed in the 19th century, written in a third-person omniscient point of view. The relationship between Calixta and Alcée holds a degree of passion that is absent from both of their marriages. Calixta is scared of the storm, but Alcée's calmness relaxes her. When Alcée embraces her after the lightning hits a chinaberry tree, it reminds her of the love she once had for Alcée: "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."[4] The storm causes destruction to the town, like the affair is going to do to Calixta's marriage. Calixta's sexual desire is directly tied to the storm.

In the article, "The Kaleidoscope of Truth: A New Look at Chopin's 'The Storm'", Allen Stein explains how some people believe that Chopin supports and defends Calixta's affair as an act of human nature and that women deserve to fulfill to their sexual desires.[6]

Another thing to look at is how "every one was happy"[4] after the affair, which can suggest the affair was a good thing. The story gives the impression that before the storm, Calixta was lacking excitement from her marriage, but after the passionate reconnection with Alcée, everything is better than before.

Symbolism[edit]

"The Storm" is a short story that takes place during the 19th century. Chopin's protagonist Calixta is portrayed as the typical housewife, as she was sewing and tending to Bobinot and Bibi's clothes. Throughout the story there are many symbolic references. Many claim that the antagonist of the story is the storm. It is said that the storm symbolizes the passion and affair that happens between Calixta and Alcée. As soon as Calixta goes outside to get Bibi and Bobinot's clothes off the line and the storm approaches, so does Alcée seeking shelter from the storm. In an article of "The Storm," it says: "as the storm is just about to arrive, so too does Alcée to Calixta's home and as the storm begins to have an effect on the surroundings of the house, likewise Calixta and Alcée become closer (physically) eventually sleeping with each other."[7] The end of the storm signified the end of the affair between Calixta and Alcée. At the end of the storm, the narrators says: "the storm passed and everyone was happy". They both experienced that intense passion that their relationships were missing.

White is also used throughout the story to describe Calixta's skin and her bed. The reference to her skin is used to show her innocence. Although Calixta is described as innocent throughout the story, she and Alcèe still have a sexual encounter. Calixta's body "know[s] for the first time its birthright", meaning that even though she is married and has a child, she is obviously not innocent but she is now aware of the pleasure that her body can achieve with a different man.[8][unreliable source?] Also, the bed expresses Calixta's innocence as the place where she expresses her passion is shown to be white.[9][unreliable source?] In the story, white has been used in multiple instances to represent innocence and purity.[original research?]

Marriage is symbol that was very complex in the story. By stating how "the storm passed and everyone was happy" at the end of the story, it signified how the affair was not something looked at as a negative. Throughout the story, Calixta was described to be heavenly through pure and "white" symbolism. Being that she was described this way, it can be said[by whom?] that Chopin did not necessarily shine a negative light on adulterers. The affair was made to seem natural and pure, which can also symbolize how the structure and confines of marriage can be unnatural.[original research?]

Critical response[edit]

Many critics have argued that "The Storm" narrows in on the topics of gender, and some view it as a sin committed between two "ex" lovers. As Maria Herbert-Leiter suggested, "through this story, Chopin seems to be arguing for human passion and desire, but not at the cost of marriage. After all, the two couples end where they began—happily married. Furthermore, Calixta's concerns for Bobinôt's physical dryness and Clarisse's continued devotion to her husband prove the solidity of the marriages that are tested in this story." [10]

In his book Women and Autonomy, critic Allen Stein stated that "From first chapter to last, 'The Storm,' is pervaded by ambiguity. The plot is clear enough, but the story is missing important detail relating to the setting. That within the compass of the story's five pages Chopin offers, to varying degrees, the points of view of five different characters suggests no implicit consensus of vision but only a sense of fragmentation. A sense perhaps that with any significant situation points of view are as numerous as those involved and, further, that with many pieces of significant fiction readings are as numerous as readers."[11]

Other versions[edit]

In 2009, John Berardo directed a short film adaptation of the story, produced by Major Diamond Productions.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Kate Chopin: "The Storm"". www.katechopin.org. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  2. ^ "The Storm". Good Reads.
  3. ^ "The Storm Summary". E Notes.
  4. ^ a b c Chopin, Kate. The Storm. Pearson. pp. 120–123. ISBN 9780134586380.
  5. ^ Gale, Robert L. (2009). Characters and plots in the fiction of Kate Chopin. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. ISBN 9780786440054. OCLC 277136429.
  6. ^ Stein, Allen (Fall 2003). "The Kaleidoscope of Truth: A New Look at Chopin's "The Storm"". American Literary Realism. 36 (1): 51–64. JSTOR 27747120.
  7. ^ McManus, Dermot (2015-04-11). "The Storm by Kate Chopin". The Sitting Bee. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  8. ^ "The Storm Sex Quotes Page 2". www.shmoop.com. Retrieved 2018-04-16.
  9. ^ "Whiteness in The Storm". Shmop. Shmoop University Inc. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  10. ^ "Kate Chopin: "The Storm"". www.katechopin.org. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  11. ^ Stein, Allen F. (2005-01-01). Women and Autonomy in Kate Chopin's Short Fiction. Peter Lang. p. 56. ISBN 9780820474427.
  12. ^ Berardo, John, The Storm, Orion Acaba, Brittany Batson, James Clow, retrieved 2017-11-09