Kate Chopin Short Stories Term Paper 5 pages

Kate Chopin Short Stories

Kate Chopin is a renowned novelist as well as a short stories writer. Of most significance in our context is the fact that she was a writer who was known for undermining patriarchy by elevating the position of women in all her writing in all the spheres of life. She uses her creative writing skills to express her belief in the strength of a woman and her feminist standpoint.

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In her three short stories analyzed here namely, ‘The Storm’, ‘The Story of an Hour’ and ‘A Pair of Silk Stockings’ there are some themes that are overriding in these three short stories.

One of the most outstanding themes is that of women search for selfhood, self-discovery and their own identity (The Kate Chopin International Society, 2011). For instance in ‘The Storm’, Calixta is deeply afflicted by the absence of the husband and the kid Bibi when the storm approaches. She is deeply disturbed until Alcee, a long time boyfriend passes by and as the story progresses, there is a blinding lightning that almost throws Calixta to the ground and partially blinds her, Alcee comforts her in this situation and the warm embrace brings back old memories. They cannot help but get into kissing and have sex, it was only after this that Calixta feels relieved totally and strengthened to take the absence of the husband and child. Indeed this new found joy is passed on to the worried husband and the baby once they troop in after the storm. It is indicated that that evening there was a lot of laughter from the house of Calixta than has been the usual levels. This experience rejuvenates the old Calixta who was jovial but marriage turned her to a dull woman.

Mrs. Mallard in ‘The Story of an Hour’ is also depicted as broken down once the husband ‘dies’ in the accident, she weeps deeply initially but after some time, she is depicted as feeling free, the death of the husband to her has brought freedom and years of abundance ahead to look forth to, she walks out of her room where she was weeping a new person, smiling, a sign of having rediscovered herself and found the new person that was suppressed in her.

The same theme is portrayed in the short story ‘A Pair of Silk Stockings’ where Mrs. Sommers found herself to be a possessor of fifteen Dollars in unexpected manner. She had the authority of making the decision of what to do with the money. She is depicted to have had the chance to break away from the bored life and venture into shopping, eating out in exquisite places as well as going to the movies; generally she pampered herself on that particular day. This was an indication of new found freedom as well that gave her the liberty of choice which she never had within the confines of her marriage.

The above instance shows that she rediscovered herself as the neighbors say that there were some better days way before she had though of being Mrs. Sommers, showing that since she became married to Sommers, she has not known any good life and now was the time to rediscover herself and win back her identity as a woman, hence the reason she first made the necessary purchases for the kids, after which she budgeted for her personal posh lifestyle and went for it without the support of any man.

The other outstanding theme in many shorts stories by Chopin’s as well as these three short stories is the revolt of women against conformity (gender conformity) and against social norms that limit women’s possibilities. Chopin brings out this clear revolt in ‘A Pair of Silk Stockings’ where Mr. Sommers goes to buy clothes from a women clothes shop yet it is a man who is charged with the duty of being a clerk and serving the women, she then goes to have some meal in a very expensive hotel and she is served by a man and she ends up giving a tip of some extra coins to the man serving her who then bows to her. She then later goes to a theatre hall and the writer depicts ‘brilliantly dressed women who had gone there to kill time…’ and not accompanied by men as is the social norm.

Mrs. Sommers also depicts a woman who does not want to get tied down to the duties of taking care of the family only and miss out her personal fun, which is against the social order set out at that time. She budgets for the basic necessities of the house, but spends a significant part on her personal fun as well. In this story the women are setting a new order for themselves that revolts totally from the social norms, one which men cannot understand as is shown in the last paragraph of the story where the man seated opposite Mrs. Sommers cannot read nor understand the ‘small, pale face’ of Msr. Sommers, ‘It puzzled him to decipher what he saw there’.

This revolt against the social order and the norms laid out especially for women is also seen in ‘The Storm’. While Bobinot is locked away by the storm, Calixta, the wife gets herself crossing the fidelity in marriage line and engages in sex with a long time boyfriend. It is a social norm that once a woman is married she was to remain faithful to the marriage, yet Calixta goes against it.

To magnify the social revolt by women, Calixta does not feel any sign of remorse over what she had done in the house they share with the husband, instead she felt strengthened and better, indeed ‘she lifted her pretty chin in the air and laughed aloud’ as a goodbye sign to Alcee. On the other end, Clarisse, the wife to Alcee was away and she felt very comfortable being away from the husband instead of being lonely, indeed the writer indicates that their separation for some time was ‘…the first free breath since her marriage’ and it ‘seemed to restore the pleasant liberty of her maiden days’.

It is more amazing that the revolt goes as far as the disliking by women of the intimacy between her and the husband. Clarisse is said to feel that ‘Devoted as she was to her husband, their intimate conjugal life was something which she was more than willing to forego for a while’ (Esther Lombardi, 2011), a thing that is directly the opposite of the social norms set out. The entire conflict and tension that was evident in the entire story is resolved and dissolved by the act of unfaithfulness between people, both of whom are married.

The theme of social revolt is further perpetuated in ‘The Story of an Hour’ as the writer depicts Mrs. Mallard as having been touched by the supposed death of the husband in an accident, which is the normal reaction that is expected, but after a few moments of mourning. Mrs. Mallard has a change in perspective and is happy that now she will have all the freedom she ever needed with the death of the husband, in fact the writer says Mrs. Mallard ‘was drinking in a very elixir of life…’ (VCU, 2011). This seems odd taking into account that the husband was dead. She was having too much fancy of the days that were ahead of her without her husband around her, to her the husband was an impediment to her fun life.

Time Setting; There is a common trend in the time setting of the three stories. It is evident that in all the stories, the time setting are a few years after some significant or pleasant even had happened to the main characters in the stories. ‘The Storm’ begins several years after Calixta had flirted with Alcee. ‘A Pair of Silk Stockings’ also begins several years since Mrs. Sommers had had any fun or self pampering in her life and ‘The Story of An Hour’ also is set not at the beginning but the seeming ending of the marriage of Mrs. Mallard (Joanna Bartee, 2011).

In terms of the plot of the three stories, there is a lot of similarity that cuts across. The introduction of the stories present a tension filled situation in all the stories. Calixta is very worried about the situation of the husband and the child as the heavy rain thunders on, Mrs. Mallard is also afflicted by trouble and grief due to the death of the husband and on the third instance Mrs. Sommers is faced with a daunting task of budgeting for the cash so as to take good care of the family with it as well as herself, she has to make a decision.

The development of the stories all present a situation that tends to dissolve the tension that had been presented at the opening of the stories. Calixta welcomes Clarisse who makes love to her and makes her forget the absence of the family; Mrs. Mallard locks herself in her room and looks to nature for consolation, a situation that seems to dissolve the tension that she was subjected to, and Mrs. Sommers goes on a shopping and fun spree that ends up in the movie theatre. Finally at the end of the three stories there seems to be a successfully resolved situation for the tension that was, Calixta seems at peace with the family and she even does not quarrel the husband as was the norm (and the husband expected it), Mrs. Mallard though dies, she dies a happy woman of ‘the joy that kills’ and Mrs. Sommers seems satisfied with her day out where she had maximum fun and bought all she wanted (Jennifer Heeden, 2011).


Esther Lombardi, (2011). ‘The Storm’ – Short Story. Kate Chopin’s Famous Short Story – Classic

Text. Retrieved December 30, 2011 from http://classiclit.about.com/od/stormkatechopin/a/aa_thestorm_kchopin_2.htm

Jennifer Heeden, (2011). A Woman Who Is a Person. Retrieved December 30, 2011 from http://facultystaff.vwc.edu/~cbellamy/Dream%20Child/Chopin-%20Heeden,Pate, McBride, Barnardo.htm

Joanna Bartee, (2011). The Storm: More Than Just a Story. Retrieved December 30, 2011 from http://facultystaff.vwc.edu/~cbellamy/southern%20literature/SL%20Chopin.htm

The Kate Chopin International Society, (2011). Kate Chopin’s Themes. Retrieved December 30,

2011 from http://www.katechopin.org/themes.shtml

VCU, (2011). The Story of An Hour: Kate Chopin. Retrieved December 30, 2011 from http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/webtexts/hour/

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