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“The Storm” by Kate Chopin

On 18th July 1898, Kate Chopin wrote a short story titled “The Storm” which played around the events happening in the life of a woman (Calixta) over a stormy afternoon. Calixta was a typical traditional housewife bundled with the task of taking care of the home while her husband (Bobinôt) and her son (Bibi) were out doing other things. On this particular afternoon, a storm held up Bobinôt and Bibi at a store where they had gone to do some little shopping. Coincidentally, Calixta’s former lover (Alcée Laballière) was riding in the neighborhood of her house and popped in ostensibly to seek shelter from the raging storm. It also happened that Calixta’s house help, Sylvie did not report to duty on this day and the story unfolds with Calixta and Alcée engaging in romantic activities. The story ends with Calixta lovingly welcoming home her husband and son. Alcée on getting home writes a love letter to his wife, Clarisse who had left to visit her childhood home together with their babies.

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The story takes place in two locations. First is Friedheimer’s store in Louisiana where Bobinôt and his son, Bibi are trapped by the storm. The second location is Bobinôt’s and Calixta’s house; also in Louisiana. This is where most of the story happens with Alcée making an entrance and engaging in a few hours of illicit love with Calixta.

In order to fully understand the attitudes implied towards women in this story, the reader must first understand how all the characters have been portrayed. All the female characters have been assigned the role of homemaker and child bearer. Calixta is a mother to a four year old son who spends all of her day looking after the house; cooking, sawing and cleaning. Clarisse is a mother of more than one toddler and judging from the momentum of the story, it is evident that she also spends most of her time taking care of the family. Sylvie, the last female character in the story (only mentioned in passing) helps Calixta take care of the house chores. She however only shows up on alternate days. This is deduced from Bibi’s statement that Sylvie would not come to help her mother on the day of the story because she had done so the previous day. The two major female characters i.e. Calixta and Clarisse are tired and bored of the routine in their lives and are in need of some excitement. This is why when the charming Alcée rides in and offers Calixta a few minutes of passion, she gladly obliges. The same attitude is seen of Clarisse who is more than happy to be away from her husband and her exuberance is rejuvenated after meeting her old friends. The actions of Calixta in particular are not justified since from the story we can tell that she has a very loving and adoring husband, Bobinôt. This can be seen from the way Bobinôt attempts to spruce up Bibi before they enter the house just so that Calixta doesn’t get furious. He also buys shrimps from the store which happen to be a favorite of Calixta’s. It is therefore wrong, at least from a moral perspective for her to cheat on her husband. Clarisse’s enthusiasm to the thought of staying away from her husband is slightly understandable because it has been made apparent from the story that she has never had some free time to unwind since she got married.

The story is told from a third person point of view (almost bordering on omniscience) with the narrator not only describing events but also allowing us into the thoughts of the characters. It is from the latter action that we get to know of Clarisse’s wish to stay away from her husband and It is through the narrator that we are made aware of Calixta’s and Alcée’s form romantic escapades in Assumption.

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