KATE CHOPIN American Author 1851-1904 Mrs. Owens English 1102 Dec. 2012
Biography• Born February, 08 1851 ,in St. Louis Missouri, to slave owners• Married at age 20 to Oscar Chopin• Moved to New Orleans were she bore five sons and one daughter• Husband died, leaving her a widow at age 32• Moved back to St. Louis where she began writing stories to support her family• Died August 22, 1904
Overview• Known for writing novels, short-stories, poems, and children’s stories• Very quiet and reserved, but alive with sympathy and interest (American Authors)• Her search for “self-understanding” motivates many of the characters in her stories• Chopin’s works deal with everyday life situations, feelings that women are usually afraid to express, and life situations that so often affect our families
Désirée’s Baby• Désirée’s Baby, a short-story about a wealthy man, Monsieur Valmondé, finds a baby outside his gateway and takes her home to his wife. They raise the baby as their own. When she turns 18, she marries a wealthy man named Armand Aubigny. After they wed, she becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son. The couple is blissfully happy with the arrival of their new son.• Later, the husband begins to show displeasure with Désirée. One day she notices the similarities of her son and a “young quadroon” boy. (pbs.org) When she asks her husband what this means, he replies, “the child is not white; it means that you are not white.” (pbs.org) Désirée does not believe her husband so she writes home to her mother. Her mother tells her to come home and bring the baby with her.• Désirée walks into the bayou with her baby in her arms, committing suicide. Later, when Aubigny is burning Désirée’s belongings he finds a letter written from his mother to his father revealing that he “belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery.” (Miner)
“The Storm”• “The Storm” another short-story from Kate Chopin. This story is about an apparent attraction between Calixta (a married woman) and Alcée. While Calixta’s husband and son are in town, a very strong storm comes. Alcée is passing through the area of Calixta’s home as the storm is approaching. Calixta offers him shelter out of the storm. At first, Alcée chooses to remain on the porch; but as the rain gets stronger, he decides to come inside the house.• Calixta is looking out the window at the storm when the lightening strikes really loud and bright. Scared, she stumbles back into Alcée’s arms. She feels safe in his arms. “When he touched her breasts they gave themselves up in quivering ecstasy.” (Lombardi) They have given into their passionate desire for each other and have both (along with the storm) reached their climax. The storm then dies down and fades away. Once the storm has passed, her husband and son return home. The family has dinner together, and life goes on as it normally would.
“A Pair of Silk Stockings”• Chopin’s “A Pair of Silk Stockings” tells a story about a woman, wife, mother, of poor status that becomes “the unexpected possessor of fifteen dollars.” (pbs.org) Her first thoughts are to spend the money on things that her children need. But once at the store she starts spending the money on herself. She buys herself a pair of silk stockings, a pair of boots, a few magazines, and a pair of gloves. She also has lunch in a restaurant, and sees a play at the theater. Then she takes a cable car home, and she wishes that the ride would never end.• In this story Chopin shows the struggles that women face while trying to display their own self-identity, as well as playing the role of a wife and mother.
Summary• Kate Chopin’s stories “details the social and sexual subtleties of the Cajun and Creole culture in which she lived during her childhood and marriage. (Brantley)• Chopin displays the ability to write “on the two sexes with a large degree of detachment and objectivity.” (Koloski)
WORKS CITED• Kate Chopin: A Study of the Short Fiction. Bernard Koloski. Twayne’s Studies in Short Fiction 65. New York: Twayne Publishers, 19963 p145-148. From Gale Virtual Reference Library• Feminist Writers. Ed. Pamela Kester-Shelton. Detroit: St. James Press, 1996. From Literature Resource Center.• LitFinder Contemporary Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2007• Reference Guide to Short Fiction, 1st ed.,edited by Noelle Watson, St. James Press, 1994• http://web.ebscohost.com.libproxy.troy.edu/ehost/detail?vid=7&bk=1&hid=108&s id=4c9c.html• http://www.pbs.org/katechopin/library/desireesbaby.html• http://www.pbs.org/katechopin/library/silkstockings.html