Tone, Language, And Indirect Characterization In The Storm By Kate Chopin

“The Storm” by Kate Chopin

Kate Chopin’s, The Storm is a poignant story about one sensual love affair. The book continues Chopin’s confrontation of the theme of adultery and women’s sexualities, with all the complexities that individual’s face in a marriage. The three-part collection in this short story presents a well-structured narrative that allows the author to present an assortment of perspectives in one single situation(Beer). The purpose is to support her claim that “reality” in its purest form is relative. The situation seems simple; Calixta’s husband Bobinôt, and her son, Bibi are out to town when a storm hits. Complexity presents itself when, Calixta, alone at home decides to shut the windows and all the doors when Alcée Laballière, her former lover, rides into her front yard seeking shelter from the heavy rain. It is at this particular moment that their desires get the best of them, and they end up having sex as the storms rage on. They reignite their passion for each other, and when they storm subsides, Alcée Laballière departs and Calixta welcomes her loved ones back home. Life goes back to normal, as evident in the ending of the story that they storm was able to pass and everyone was essentially happy(Chopin and Knights). Additionally, the tale ostensibly avoids offering pat moral truisms, perhaps to show that there is no retribution for adultery. The purpose if this essay is to analyze how the author uses tone, language, and indirect characterization to establish the story.

In using language to create the story, Chopin makes use of a number of styles, most notably, symbolism. Evidence of symbolism can be seen in the use of a storm to represent a passionate encounter between two former lovers.  The mere fact that the sexual encounter occurs during a storm, and seems to end after it subsides seems to indicate the awakening of old passions. It was this controversial theme of an explicit love that was responsible for the story being published in 1969 after Chopin’s death. The passion between them was let lose when Calixta saunters into the arms of her former lover. It starts during this storms and ends when the storm subsides ,Alcee leaving the house. They have no ounce of guilt about the decadent act that they both participated in. After their encounter, Calixta decides to wait for her husband and son to come back from the store while Alcee writes a long loving letter to his beloved wife and implores her to enjoy her time Biloxi without hurrying back home. Furthermore, section 2 presents a crucial love scene which plays out against an ironic allusion to a popular Christian form of symbolism; the Biblical Assumption. During this event, a lily, white immaculate dove and the passion. Chopin does an impeccable job at offering a moral tale where a woman’s sexual experience is not under any form of scrutiny and condemnation but conversely becomes celebrated(Seyersted). The experience is used by Calixta, not to neglect or abandon her family, but to renew her sense of commitment to her family. A woman, in “The Storm” is able to achieve personal fulfillment while at the same time remaining happily married.  Similar to the notions brought forth in a majority of naturalistic fiction, morality, as a state in reality relative.

The Storm is permeated by an encouraging and sympathetic tone that runs its full course in the whole book. Throughout the book, the narrator’s tone of the story is that of enabling encouragement. The narrator’s voice seems to almost encourage the two former lovers in their decision to have this illicit affair and keep it secret. It would be the expectation of most people that an author would discourage adultery, but Chopin seems to fully endorse and encourage it to its fullest(Petry). To add to this it, in a way, encourages these two lovers to get together through the mystical power of the cyclone that rages continually around them. The author’s tone also seems to sympathize with the fact that the affair between the two former lovers can only last as long as the raging cyclone itself (Chopin, et al. 25). The lovers know that they have to part after the storm ends rather than deciding to fall asleep in each other’s arms. In the story, whenever a character shares their opinion or speaks in the story the tone melds around that individual, providing sympathy for the point of view that they present. Whether it is Bobinôt’s worry, Bibi’s concern, Calixta’s desire, Clarisse’s relief or Alcée’s graceful deceit, Chopin conveys them all in equal measure. The purpose of her doing this is is to present their views as equally valid in the world.

The use of indirect characterization is also responsible for pushing the story further and providing a clarity in the ideas that it presents. The author is successful at vividly depicting that Calixta has feelings for her former lover. The author writes; “His voice and her own startled her as if from a trance”(Chopin, et al. 155 ). Calixta puts herself in a situation that might prompt adultery when she decides to invite a man she has feelings for inside her home. She cannot fight the attraction that is within her and ends up falling victim to her carnality. For Chopin, this also becomes an opportunity to present an artistic setting that helps to pass the character’s feelings and also add extra meaning to the episodes that she describes(The Kate Chopin Newsletter 21). The hard rain, lightning, and storm indicate the inner state of Calixta’s soul when she finally meets Alcee. She gets lost in his presence but ironically, it also worries her at a higher degree than the absence of her dear husband and son.  Her sense of freedom and happy-go-lucky attitude to this encounter presents an issue that is hard to tackle for many. The society does not certainly approve of married individuals engaging in extra-marital affairs or engaging in sexual relations with someone other than their marriage partners. To make matters worse, the act took place in Calixta’s home, the same abode that she shares with her husband and son. The story presents a point of view that seems to present adultery as an acceptable act, that individuals need not fuss (Chopin, et al.). To the author, nothing is relative, and situations can always be simplified.

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