IntroductionConsidered together, Kate Chopin’s life and work show how difficult it is to define female identity in America. Chopin’s greatest works (The Awakening, “The Story of an Hour”) are defined by portraits of women becoming aware of their own desires, struggling to realize them, and dying. However, in her own life it was Chopin’s loved ones who died and Chopin herself who lived to juggle artistic, social, and sexual desires, all while raising six children alone and dealing with her late-husband’s debts. Her works repeatedly refuse to provide simple answers and instead draw readers into sympathy with the complexities created by passion, racial bias, and the demands imposed by society.
- Much of Chopin’s life was defined by the deaths of those close to her. Her father died when she was only 4 years old. A founder of the Pacific Railroad, he was killed when a railway bridge collapsed.
- Chopin’s half-brother died from typhoid fever in 1863. Her great-grandmother, whom she’d been very close to, died the same year.
- Many of Chopin’s works are set in Louisiana and often describe the lush natural settings and the mix of cultures that define the region.
- The Awakening has been adapted into two movies, and PBS made a documentary about Chopin’s life in 1999.
- After spending a day at the World’s Fair in Saint Louis in 1904, Chopin died of a brain hemorrhage.
All Resources by Category
- Critical Survey of Long Fiction
- Critical Survey of Short Fiction
- Feminist Long Fiction
- Kate Chopin - Identities and Issues in Literature
- Short Story Criticism
- The Awakening - Identities and Issues in Literature
- The Awakening - Literary Characters
- The Awakening - Literary Places
- Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism
- A Point at Issue! Study Guide
- Desiree's Baby Study Guide
- The Awakening Study Guide (eNotes)
- The Story of an Hour Study Guide (eNotes)
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