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Kate Chopin Presentation (Fall 2011)


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Kate Chopin Presentation (Fall 2011)

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