In her short story “The Storm,” the American author Kate Chopin portrays her ability to use metaphors in exploring several social and emotional issues affecting women in the 19th century. Noteworthy, Kate Chopin was born and lived at the time when feminist writers and social enthusiasts were advocating for women rights. Born Katherine O’Flaherty in Missouri around 1850, Chopin is one of the most influential feminist writers of the 20th century. Her father, Thomas O’Flaherty was an Irish immigrant and a prominent businessman in St. Louis, Missouri. However, Thomas died when Chopin was five years old, leaving her under the care of her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. This explains why Chopin developed close relationships with these women. It partly explains her roles as a feminist writer in her later life.
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In the 19th century, most American men still dominated their households (Bloom 34). Society allowed the oppression of females. Women’s roles were mostly “in the kitchen,” which made them remain in their homes to care for their husbands and children throughout their lives. Kate Chopin attempts to bring into limelight the feelings and emotions of the sexually oppressed women. In this work, Chopin displays the plight of women who are increasingly rediscovering positions in society by reflecting on their relations and expressing their emotions. Quite clearly, women were rediscovering their important role in society. In this story, the term “The storm” has been used as a metaphor to symbolize several things.
While it is clear that the storm was a natural event, the author uses it as an unexpected object or event that gives women an opportunity to awaken from their minds and express their feelings and emotions in a male-dominated society. In the story, the storm affects love and relationships. In essence, the storm affected every person mentioned in the story. However, it had both positive and negative impacts. Arguably, although the metaphor of the storm affects relationships both positively and negatively, it rejuvenates the relationship between Calixta and Bobinot, relieving Calixta of her emotional burden but equally saving Bobinot from Calixta’s unending quarrels.
As the story begins, the author provides some evidence that the relationship between Bobinot and his son Bibi is quite strong. The two are in a general store when a thunderstorm strikes. The storm is so violent that nobody wants to go out. To make his son happy, Bobinot decides to buy him some presents. Also, he avoids the storm at all costs. However, this situation reveals something hidden in the relationships in Bobinot’s house. It is evident that his avoidance of the storm was meant to avoid the “stormy” relationship between him and his wife. He avoids any conflict with Calixta. It is evident that there are constant wrangles in marriage.
On the other hand, as the storm starts, Kate Chopping attempts to describe Calixta’s position. Like other women in the 19th century, she is left home doing household chores while the husband and child are out. Chopping indicates that she was not even aware of the advancing storm until it was too close (Wilson 56). She was busy thinking about her life while taking her household chores. It is evident that the author wants to describe Calixta’s position, which is repressed by the constraints of her marriage and the social perceptions towards women. Suddenly, as the storm advances, the reader is introduced to Alcee, a strong character who appears riding a horse. With the advancing storm, Alcee has no option but to enter into Bobinot’s house. Here, the real metaphorical role of the storm is explained. The reader learns that Alcee and Calixta had a strong sexual affair before their respective marriages. Both settled on a marriage partner of their own choice, breaking their relationship apart. However, the storm provides a chance to relieve the sexual restraints both had been enduring. According to the author, after a strong sexual moment between Calixta and Alcee, the storm cooled down, and they felt relieved and happy. At the same time, they left each other.
On the negative side of the storm, it leads to an illicit sexual affair between Alcee and Calixta. It affects their lives significantly. After the departure of the physical storm, the two are faced with the aftermath of their sexual affair. They both feel renewed and happy. The sexual and emotional restraints are carried away by the storm. On her part, Calixta feels renewed. She has nothing to distract her time and feels free to concentrate on her marriage or Alcee. However, it is evident that she chooses to concentrate on her marriage.
On the other hand, Alcee feels that he can live alone longer than he expected. His wife Clarissa had gone to visit relatives in Biloxi with their children, leaving him alone. Before the storm, he was missing his wife and children. However, after the illicit affair with Calixta, he felt relieved and wrote a love letter to his wife, asking her to take her time. He explained that the most important thing was to ensure that the children were healthy (Chopin 40). Therefore, it is likely that the sexual constraints and emotions that had lodged in him were relieved after the sexual affair with Calixta.
On the other hand, the storm has a positive impact on the lives of the individuals. Of more important is the relationship between Calixta and her family. For instance, when returning from the general store, Bobinot was wondering what he would tell his wife. He was trying to formulate a good and convincing explanation of his delay in returning the kid home. He also wanted to formulate a good explanation on how he protected Bibi from the storm. Also, he even removes mud from the child’s shoes to avoid conflicts with Calixta. He is expecting a major conflict after the storm. However, things turn out to be good. As he attempts to give his explanations, the wife seems interested in their health. She seems to be glad that both are safe.
Rather than bothering Bobinot with questions, she tells him that he “is good for anything,” kisses him on the check and says “…let me tell you. We will have a feast tonight…” (Chopin 39). Possibly, this means that Calixta and Bobinot had not had a sexual affair for a long time before the storm came. It seems the desire for love and sexual affairs had almost died before the event, leaving Calixta to express her dissatisfaction by nagging her husband. However, after the storm and the illicit affair with Alcee, her sexual desires are rejuvenated. Her love for Bobinot is renewed, and the continuous conflict ends (Elliott 82).
From this analysis, it is evident that the storm affects Calixta more than it does to anyone else. Her life is renewed. She feels relaxed and free to enjoy her marriage. Kate Chopin, a feminist author, wanted to show that a storm was coming to relieve women from the constraints of love, male dominion, sexual relationships, and negative social perceptions towards them. In broad, the storm was the awakening of women’s roles and positions in the 19th century.
Bloom, Harold. “Introduction.” Modern Critical Views: Kate Chopin. Pennsylvania: Chelsea House Publishers, 2007. Print.
Chopin, Kate. “The Storm.” The Literature of the American South. New York: Norton, 1996. Print.
Elliott, Emory. The Columbia History of the American Novel. New York: Columbia UP, 2001. Print.
Wilson, Robert. Feminine Sexuality and Passion: Kate Chopin’s ‘The Storm.’ British Columbia: The University of British Columbia, 2006. Print.