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Explain the following paragraph in "The Storm" by Kate Chopin."Her lips were as red and...

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jp0830 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 14, 2009 at 11:25 PM via web

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Explain the following paragraph in "The Storm" by Kate Chopin.

"Her lips were as red and moist as pomegranate seed. Her white neck and glimpse of her full, firm bosom disturbed him powerfully. As she glanced at him the fear in her liquid blue eyes had given place to a drowsy gleam that unconsciously betrayed a sensous desire. He looked down into her eyes and there was nothing for him to do but to gather her lips in a kiss"

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 15, 2009 at 10:58 AM (Answer #1)

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This paragraph explains, in a rather straightforward way, Calixta's appearance as Alcee grabs a hold of her at her house during the storm.  It is filled with imagery and vivid descriptions, written in such a way as to make her appear her most appealing to him. Her lips aren't red, but as red as "pomegranate seeds," her eyes "gleamed" with "sensuous desire," and her full full bosom all make her unavoidably desirable to Alcee.  Chopin uses such vivid imagery and description to relay the sense of passion that Alcee was feeling.  The line where Calixta's fear gave way to desire also relays the fact that Calixta was not unfavorable towards his desire; because she was so appealing, and her eyes seemed to give him permission, he decides to kiss her.

This paragraph sets up women as physically attractive and appealing to men, and not only that, as desirable to participate in those relations with men.  In Kate Chopin's time, physical intimacy was not discussed--it was a taboo subject that was considered inappropriate to think about or discuss.  Women were supposed to be happy in their marriages, and to patiently endure that side of the relationship.  They weren't supposed to desire that intimacy, especially outside of the bounds of marriage.  Chopin enjoyed challenging the status quo of societal standards in her stories, and she certainly does that in this story.

I hope that those thoughts clarify the paragraph a bit for you.  Good luck.

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