Presentation on theme: "Tonie – Kate Chopin Year 11 (English Literature)."— Presentation transcript:
Tonie – Kate Chopin Year 11 (English Literature)
Today We will focus on the journey of the central character Tonie and how Kate Chopin illustrates the social issue of prejudice and the charts the personal journey to understanding sexuality through this story. “There are some people who leave impressions not so lasting as the imprint of an oar upon the water.” – Kate ChopinThere are some people who leave impressions not so lasting as the imprint of an oar upon the water. Work in pairs to discuss what you think Chopin was trying to say with this quote. (5 mins)
Background Cheniere was described by the census of 1880 as a fishing village with a growing resort industry, according to Joseph Loulan Pitre It took an eight hour boat ride to travel the fifty-four miles from New Orleans to Cheniere Caminada The sea is an important part of Chopin’s literature, particularly in The Awakening. What do you think it symbolises in Tonie?
Key Themes Some of the key themes we are going to explore today are: Emotional journey/ transformation Class prejudice
Journey (Emotional and Physical) The contrast of city and country. Tonie lives in the country, a place traditionally associated with innocence, a lack of knowledge. In the beginning of the story, Tonie lacks an understanding of love and sexuality. Since the object of his affection, Claire, does not live on Cheniere Caminada, Tonie must travel to Grand Isle to be near her. After he misses the chance to take her as his own when they are alone on his boat (4), he leaves Grand Isle, and we next see him in New Orleans, even farther from his home. Only after he hears the news of Claire’s death can he return to Cheniere Caminada because this represents the end of his quest. As he tells his mother, when Claire was alive, he despaired because he had no hope, no life. Now that she is dead, he can hope that they will meet in Heaven where they will be equals. He comes back to the country no longer as innocent as before yet more content with his life. This contentment is most clear in his mannerisms. Before his understanding, we see him characterized as ungainly, ill at ease anywhere but on water, frozen by his inability to communicate to anyone but his mother. Now, we see a Tonie who is looser. For the first time, he is happy and the overall impression of him is one of relaxation
Tonie’s journey The journey is important Tonie can no longer hide behind routine as he surrounds himself with unfamiliar places. He only has one place to look for answers in his life: within himself This is most striking when he tries to tell his mother what he has learned. At first, he looks to the water, the place he has always felt the most comfortable, but it doesn’t not “open his thought”. He then looks to his own hand, that which reflects who he is: rough and almost animalistic yet open now. Only by looking at his hand does he find the words to express how Claire’s death has changed him. The open palm is in contrast to the closed fist he shows when Claire gives him her silver bracelet after their boat ride. His closed fist represents his closed mind – he could not understand the conflict she caused him. Her death has resolved that conflict, and he can be content with not only who he is but his life. This happiness is only an illusion masking bitter disappointment one thinks.
Tonie’s Transformation Chopin often uses images of flying creatures and the seasons to parallel Tonie’s state At church, people are pestered by mosquitoes. The only birds present are the ribbons on the girls’ hats which seem to flap like wings (1). Nature is dried up and stinging, like Tonie’s conception of love and sexuality. When he travels to Grand Isle the next day, we see a different, milder setting. Winds are now “soft velvety gusts” and the “day is bright and beautiful” (2). Tonie sees doves flying to water oaks. Doves traditionally represent either divine guidance or physical love. At this point in his journey, Tonie does not know if Claire is an angel or a woman, so the double meaning of the doves is appropriate. When Tonie and Claire part for the last time in the short story, Claire fades into the mist and is like “a blotch against the fading sky” (4). This signals an end to the beautiful weather, and indeed, when Part 4 opens a few lines later, the narrator tells us it is January. Here, Tonie is not only the farthest from home (he is in New Orleans), but he is also the farthest from his salvation. He is frozen just as the earth is. Only when he hears of Claire’s death is he released from the paralysis he has been in. Why do you think Chopin uses this technique to illustrate Tonie’s mood/character?
PREJUDICE City vs Country English vs French Fisherman vs lawyer’s daughter Think back to the work we did on ‘consensus’. What do you think Chopin was trying to illustrate with this story? Write a short paragraph on what you think Chopin was trying to convey!