Kate Chopin Presentation (Fall 2011)Presentation Transcript
Kate Chopin 1850-1904 “Desiree’s Baby” (1893) was her first story in Vogue Began writing after her husband’s death as a means of supporting the family Book The Awakening (1899) most controversial Writing draws upon the principles of the “local color movement”
Local Color Movement After the Civil War, American writers began to write region-specific works Special attention was paid to the unique cultures, language and ecosystems (landscapes) of the East, West, South, and Midwest These stories were sought due to an increased desire to “know” what the rest of the country looked like Printed in many national publications, they reached a wide audience Chopin’s regionalism includes Bayou Folk (1894) and many of her other works
Love in “Desiree’s Baby” Story features internal reflection and external conversation in roughly equal measure Infatuation happens “at first sight” (internal) The actual marriage is developed/destroyed only through external conversations between characters (or lack of conversation) “The fatal nature of eros lies, for Chopin, in the inability to spiritualize the erotic relationship, to make it complete, unfettered by ego selfishness and desire to dominate…” (Greenlee 71)
Antebellum Fashion Ornate, detailed Practicability indicated the class status of the wearer Ever-wider hoopskirts were in fashion Women were corseted; clothes emphasized an hourglass figure. The clothing of children (in wealthy families) was also very detailed. The bloomer comes into vogue at this time, but is not worn in the story
Clothing in “Desiree’s Baby” The “corbeille” (gift basket given by the groom to the bride) comes from France; includes a Parisian layette Her slippers are made for indoor use, not hard walking Her clothing is light-colored, but was probably still structured and ornate The dress she wears at the end of the story is easily torn in the fields—delicate fabric Armand keeps even the clothes at arm’s length at the end of the story—instructs the slaves to do the burning
Louisiana Plantations Major sugar producers for the U.S. before the war—up to one half of all sugar consumed Also produced cotton and other crops Cotton production more than doubled from 1840-1860.
Discussion Question Does Desiree’s disappearance into the bayou at the end of the story result in her liberation?
Sources “Antebellum Louisiana: Agrarian Life.” The Cabildo. Louisiana State Museum. Web. 2 Sept. 2011. <http://lsm.crt.state.la.us/CABILDO/cab-antebellum3.htm> Cayton, Mary, ed. Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History. New York: Scribners, 2001. Print. Greenlee, Anneta. “Dying to Belong: Women’s Search for Perfect Love in the Works of ZinaidaGippius, Kate Chopin, Galena Shcherbakova and LyaLuft.” Diss. CUNY Graduate Center, 2007. Print. Reuben, Paul P. "Chapter 6: Late Nineteenth Century - Kate Chopin." PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. Web. 2 Sept. 2011. <http://www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap6/chopin.html> Story of the Week: Desiree’s Baby. The Library of America, 2010. Web. 2 Sept. 2011. <http://storyoftheweek.loa.org/2010/09/desirees-baby.html>