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‘The Storm’ – Kate Chopin Year 11 (English Literature)

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1 ‘The Storm’ – Kate Chopin Year 11 (English Literature)

2 The role of weather in Literature How is weather used in literature? How could it be used to convey mood?

3 Authors Have Always Used Nature… Nature plays a leading role in many of Shakespeare’s plays. Changes in the weather, such as violent storms, frequently reflect the human events taking place on the stage. Similarly, the changing seasons often represent stages in a character’s development. The cycles of nature can also parallel the path of human life, from birth to old age, and reinforce patterns of real or symbolic death and rebirth. In the plays storms on land or at sea are often a sign of troubled times, for a protagonist* or for an entire nation.

4 ‘The Storm’ is a sequel The Storm (1898) is a sequel to another short story Chopin wrote called "At The 'Cadian Ball." This story introduced the main characters of Bobinôt, Calixta, Alcée and Clarisse. It sets the scene for The Storm with an outline of the characters past encounters; including a previous liaison between Alcée and Calixta.

5 Plot Summary Bobinôt and his four-year-old son, Bibi, are at Friedheimer's store when a particularly violent storm emerges. The two decide to remain at the store until the storm passes. Bobinôt decides to buy a can of shrimps for his wife, Calixta, while the pair waits for the storm to abate. Meanwhile, back at their house, Calixta is occupied with her sewing that, at first, she does not notice the ominous clouds or thunder. Finally, she notices that it is growing darker outside and decides to shut the windows and retrieve Bobinôt's clothes, which are hanging outside. Alcée, one of Calixta's former beaus, rides up on his horse and helps her remove the remaining clothes from the line. The storm worsens and Calixta invites Alcée into her home until it abates. Alcée was hesitant to come in and stayed outside until it became apparent that the storm was 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 and worries about her husband and son. Alcée attempts to comfort her and reminisces about the passion they once felt for each another. As the storm increases in intensity, so does the passion of the two lovers. Alcée brought out the passion and love they once had for one another. The lover's sexual encounter ends at the same time as the storm. Alcée rides off on his horse. Bobinôt and Bibi return from the store and Calixta immediately embraces them. Bobinôt presents his gift of the can of shrimps to his wife and she remarks that they will feast that night. Meanwhile, Alcée writes a loving letter to his wife, Clarisse, and encourages her to stay in Biloxi as long as she needs. He notes that their wellbeing is more important than the separation anxiety 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. Though she is devoted to her husband, Clarisse feels that she is able to forego intimacy with him for some time. The story ends with the pithy line, "So the storm passed and every one was happy."

6 Analysis The Storm is a story of sexuality and real life. Chopin wrote of something that was not publicly discussed. The relationship between Calixta and Alcée brought out a spark of passion that was not present in their marriages. Calixta was scared of the storm but Alcée's calmness relaxed her physically. Emotionally it brought out her sexuality that was kept dormant from her younger years. When Alcée embraced it after lightning and thunder hit, it reminded her of the passion and love she once had for Alcée. It was as though her sexuality was driven by nature. The storm was brewing outside and leaving destruction in its path, like the bruise she put on her marriage by having the affair with Alcée.

7 Analysis (Continued)  The narrator describes Calixta as a worry-some wife but then it transforms into a description of her youthful beauty. The focus is on her vivacious body after Alcée not seeing her for five years and becomes entranced in it.  Calixta's husband seemed not to look at her the same way Alcée did. He saw alians real woman but she pretended that everything had changed especially after having a child.  The line "The rain was over and the sun was turning the listening green world into a palace of gems," symbolized that they both had new outlooks on their marriages.  Calixta was able to take her affair and use it to her advantage by helping her remember what a sexual person she once was. The story ending with the quote "So the storm passed and every one was happy" symbolizes that Calixta and Alcée were happy to have the affair since it helped their marriages and both spouses would know nothing of the affair.

8 Conclusions and Legacy By not only admitting the fact that woman have strong sexual desires, but glorifying it, Chopin crossed a threshold in both literature and thought that opened new portals of exploration and communication for both men and women The passion between these two characters is Chopin’s way of challenging the “women are on earth only to serve men” philosophy, while at the same time, inspiring a new age of sexual openness and expression that took the literary world by storm.

9 Homework – ‘The Storm’ “Like a storm, Calixta began as quiet, calm and unthreatening to man. But as her passion began to brew, a force driven by nature, she was as inept at controlling her own desires as a storm is at controlling the damage it leaves in its path.” How does Kate Chopin use the storm symbolically in this short story? Some ideas to help you plan your response: - how nature is used by writers - the mood of Alcee and Calixta at the start of the storm - what happens when the storm reaches it’s intensity - what message Kate Chopin was trying to get across and how the story was important Spend no longer than 40 minutes on this task

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