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Short Story by Kate Chopin, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 510

Essay

Kate Chopin’s “The Storm” was written in 1898 at a time when female writers were not allowed to write about the subject of sexuality, especially when it occurred outside the bounds of marriage.  Therefore, Chopin employs an extended metaphor–the rainstorm–to demonstrate the intimate relationship between Calixta and Alcee.  The story opens with a description of the coming storm, from the point of view of Calixta’s husband, to illustrate the great physical and emotional distance that separates husband and wife.  Chopin writes, 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 somber clouds that were rolling with sinister intention from the west, accompanied by a sullen, threatening roar” (Chopin).  This detailed description of the coming storm foreshadows the sexual relationship that will occur between Calixta and her former lover, Alcee, and allows for Chopin to explore taboo topics within the confines of her era and gender.

The primary action of the story takes place at Calixta’s house, and Chopin writes symbolically to demonstrate the importance of what is occurring between Calixta and Alcee.  For example, they bring in Calixta’s husband and son’s clothing from the clothesline so that the clothing will not get wet.  This is both a metaphor for Calixta’s wish to protect her family from the knowledge of what is about to occur, and also demonstrates the manner in which Alcee has intruded upon the domestic realm of Calixta’s family.  Additionally, Chopin describes Calixta and Bobinot’s bedroom as a “room with its white, monumental bed, its closed shutters [that] looked dim and mysterious” (Chopin).  The color white can act as a symbol for purity and innocence, and the closed-up nature of the room speaks to the lack of sexual intimacy between Bobinot and Calixta.  Chopin further uses this symbolism when describing the “white flame” (Chopin) of passion between Calixta and Alcee that was unconsummated in their past relationship.  The storm acts as a disruption between the normal and conventional world of Calixta’s domestic life and the private, forbidden world of her desires, thus allowing her to act on passionate impulses that wouldn’t otherwise be realized.

“The Cask of Amontillado” uses first-person narration to tell the story of the narrator’s revenge upon his friend, Fortunato.  This point-of-view is significant because it allows the reader entrance into the thoughts, beliefs, and emotions of the narrator.  This also raises questions about the reliability of the events described because the narrator is somewhat unstable, and his description of the events leading up to Fortunato’s murdered are colored by his own perception of events.  For example, when Poe writes that Fortunato “accosted [the narrator] with excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much” (Poe), this is not necessarily an accurate depiction of Forunato at the carnival.  Instead, it is filtered through the narrator’s need to portray his friend as a drunken fool so as to justify his own later actions.

Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. “The Storm.”

Poe, Edgar Allen. “The Cask of Amontillado.”

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