Discuss the title and setting of "The Storm" by Kate Chopin.

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

”The Storm” by Kate Chopin takes place in southern Louisiana.  It is possible to tell the setting  based on the hints in the story. There is a story that is a prequel to this story: "At the Cadian Ball." This story introduces the characters and the first meeting for Alcee and Calixta occurs in it.

The setting of the story is recognizable as southern Louisiana for several reasons:

  • There are two kinds of people that have French heritage who live in southern Louisiana---the Acadians who are descendants of French-American exiles from Acadia, Nova Scotia. Calixta and Bobinot are Acadians.  The other French people are the Creoles, descendants of French settlers in Louisiana. Alcee and his wife are Creoles.  Despite the shared French heritage, the Creoles and the Acadians do not mix.  The Acadians are considered to be of a lower social class than the Creoles.  Society mores would not tolerate the two classes crossing the social boundaries.  
  • Many of Chopin’s stories take place in this area of Louisiana.
  • The way the characters speak relates to their French heritage.
  • The reference to the levees would imply that the town is near to New Orleans which uses levees to control the water which comes in from the Gulf of Mexico.

The title of the story---“The Storm”---has both a literal and figurative meaning. 

The literal meaning applies to the storm that takes place during the story.  It keeps Bobinot and the boy in town until the storm is over.  The storm places Alcee inside the house with Calixta which creates the opportunity for their brief liaison. 

The figurative meaning applies to the storm within the lovers who have had an unrequited love affair since the story previously mentioned.  They have history.

"Do you remember in Assumption, Calixta?" he asked in a low voice broken by passion. Oh! she remembered; for in Assumption he had kissed her and kissed and kissed her; until his senses would well nigh fail, and to save her he would resort to a desperate flight.

As the storm moves in, Calixta and Alcee move closer to each other until they can no longer restrain themselves.  Their love making follows the crescendo of the storm, and their brief respite comes when the storm wanes.

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 in that dim, mysterious chamber; as white as the couch she lay upon. Her firm, elastic flesh that was knowing for the first time its birthright

The question that is not answered for the reader comes from the power of Alcee’s and Calixta’s connection.  Is this the only time that she will stray from her marriage promise to Bobinot? Or is the inner turmoil too much to hold back?

The spouses of the two lovers seem blithely oblivious to the affair.  Hopefully, for the children, Alcee and Calixta will focus on their marriages.

Kate Chopin was well ahead of her time.  She often pushed the limits of sexual affairs.  Often, she questioned society’s limitations on women.  Most of her female protagonists struggle under the repression of an unwanted marriage or a husband who is too restrictive. 

Several of her stories were not initially published because of their subject matter.  Eventually, society caught up with Chopin, and she is considered one of the first feminist writers.