Katherine O’ Flaherty was born on 8th February 1850 to her parents Thomas O’ Flaherty her father and mother Eliza. Her father was an Irish immigrant and her mother was of French descent. She had many female counsellors ever since she was a small girl. This is shown mainly through the tough autonomous widows in her family and the cerebral nuns in her school the sacred heart academy. She started school at the age of five.
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Kate’s mother, who was only 27 years old at the time of her spouse’s demise, never remarried after that. Kate learned history, music and how to speak French from her grandmother Madame Charlevile. Kate had a best friend, Kitty Garesche with whom they studied and composed together.
In May 1861 a communal combat broke out in St. Louis and Kate’s family was exiled for their co-conspirator empathies and lost her best friend and her brother George. Her grandmother died at the age of 83. Kate lost all her siblings and by the time she was 24 she was a single child. She graduated from the sacred heart academy as a noble student who was also a good narrator and a youthful sceptic. Kate was then assigned to write an ordinary book which became her first composition.
At the age if nineteen, Kate met and fell in love with Oscar Chopin, a Louisiana resident with whom she tied the knot on the 9th June 1870. Oscar’s business fell short in 1879 and he went back to Paris. Kate got familiar with the Creole community a significant focal point of her compositions. Oscar passed on in 1883 leaving behind six children. Kate’s mother died a year after. Kate was sentimentally exhausted and she needed to turn to composing as a way of squeezing out her anger and dissatisfaction in life (Booth and Mays 500).
For over a decade Kate was considered a good writer and became a countrywide applauded writer. She composed many different compositions. Among Kate’s first works was Piano Polka a composition known as Lillian’s Polka. She produced two short stories in 1889 named Wiser than God and a point at issue. In 1890 she issued a novel ‘At fault’ which received unenthusiastic re-evaluation. Next was another novel Young Dr. Gross in 1890.
This novel discarded by many publishers and in the end she annihilated the manuscript. This was followed by a short story Desiree baby in 1896 a narrative trails a tale of Desiree who is ditched as a baby and is taken and brought up by a loving family. She gets married and they have a baby with a dark complexion. The husband sends her away claiming that she is of black ancestry only to realize that he is the one of black ancestry. This story was published in a short story collection the following year (Booth and Mays 236).
Another collection with twenty one stories, a night in Acadia, was issued in 1897. It gave a picture of her enhanced curiosity of excitement and sexuality. This collection also expressed her disquiet for the predicament of women in the Victorian Era. Then came another short story collection, a vocation and a voice.
This comprised of works previously snubbed by magazines. The renowned Story of an hour appeared in this collection. This story trails Mrs. Millard, an ill woman, who is told of her husband’s death. She locks herself in her bedroom and regains a bizarre sense of delight and liberty. Her husband turns up unexpectedly and she dies of disbelief and distress. In this story she uses elements like Irony, smiles and imagery.
This collection was discarded. Kate created many short poems and gave in essays to several periodicals in St. Louis. Then she came up with another short story ‘The storm’ which traced the story of two lover’s unfaithfulness during a rainstorm and depicted her curiosity in infatuation and infidelity.
This was followed by her masterwork, her novel ‘The awakening’. This narration follows the story of Edna Pontellier and her great effort to conquer her increasing unusual views on feminity and motherliness with the existing social attitudes of that century.
Booth, Alison and Mays, Kelly. The Norton Introduction to Literature. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010