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How do symbols work in expected and unexpected ways in the short stories "The Storm and...

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user4858760 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted February 4, 2013 at 8:28 PM via web

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How do symbols work in expected and unexpected ways in the short stories "The Storm and "At the Casian Ball" by Kate Chopin?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 5, 2013 at 6:27 AM (Answer #1)

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Both of these short stories, which feature different snapshots of the life of a man and a woman, feature symbols that have both expected and unexpected meanings. For example, in "At the 'Cadian Ball," Alcee is described as trying to take from Calixta her ring and she clenches her fist to stop him. Symbolically, this can be viewed as the way that in spite of their passion for each other their relationship will not be allowed to develop along conventional lines. In "The Storm" however it becomes clear that the storm itself is a powerful symbol of their repressed longing for each other. Note how they satisfy that longing alongside the hammering of the storm:

They did not heed the crashing torrents, and the roar of the elements made her laugh as she lay in his arms. She was a revelation to him in that dim, mysterious chamber; as white as the couch she lay upon.

Their sexual activity is clearly symbolised in the roaring of the storm. Yet one unexpected symbolic meaning that can be identified in this symbol is the way that after the storm, both Alcee and Calixta are shown to return to their spouses with love and fondness. Marriages need a good storm to clear the air and bring back happiness just like the weather does, Chopin seems to be suggesting.

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