How do the elements of setting affect Kate Chopin's "The Storm"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What also makes the storm setting so significant is how it is an example of pathetic fallacy, a literary device that attributes human feelings to nature. That is, the violent storm reflects the intense carnal and emotional feelings of the characters of Alcée Laballiere and Calixta, feelings initiated in the first story of the paired narratives by Kate Chopin. In "At the 'Cadian Ball" the young Creole gentleman planter stands in the doorway of the ballroom with a "feverish glance" directed toward Calixta, a lower-class Cajun, whom literary critics refer to as "interstitial" in her placement in a social class as she is also described as having hair "that kinked worse than a mulatto's." 

This intense forbidden carnal attraction that Alcée feels goes unrequited and he marries Clarisse Laballière of a prestigious family, a woman whose sexual urges do not match her husband's. So in the sequel story, "The Storm," the turbulence of the weather imitates the storm of emotion within Alcée, who finds himself stopping for shelter at the home of Calixta, whose senses were left "reeling" at the ball when Alcée's lips brushed her ear "like the touch of a rose." When she is alone with the man who has ignited passion in her and she is already in an emotional state from her fright at the turbulent weather, their reactions are as spontaneous as the lightning:

The generous abundance of her passion, without guile or trickery, was like a white flame which penetrated and found response in depths of his own sensuous nature that had never yet been reached. 

gsenviro | Student

"So the storm passed and everyone was happy."

Kate Chopin's "The Storm" is a story of a storm in Louisiana that parallels the storm brewing between two former, but currently married, lovers: Calixta and Alcee. Their passion grows in intensity much like the storm outside and culminates in sex. As the storm abates, so does their brief physical encounter and they return to their pre-storm lives.

There are instances when parallels are drawn between the two storms. 

"A bolt struck a tall chimney tree at the edge of the field. It filled all visible space with a blinding glare and the crash seemed to invade the very boards they stood upon." At that very moment, Calixta and Alcee are embracing and their former love is being reignited. The lightening strike is also symbolic of sin in the Catholic Era.

"The sun was turning the glistening green world into a palace of gems": The subsiding of the rain is symbolic of the end of the brief affair (rain) and the dawning of a new outlook on life (the sun).

Clearly, Kate Chopin could not have asked for a better setting for the brief, illicit affair than the storm.