How does Kate Chopin's "The Storm" show the emotional and mental struggles of women?

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Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chopin's "The Storm" reveals the emotional and mental struggles of women even when briefly mentioning a minor character, Clarisse, in the final paragraph of the story.  Visiting Biloxi with her babies, the "first free breath since her marriage seemed to restore the pleasant liberty of her [Clarisse's] maiden days."  Chopin demonstrates that a second woman (in addition to Calixta) finds freedom from the confines of marriage invigorating.  Clarisse's marriage is apparently suffocating her, figuratively speaking.  She feels a lack of "pleasant liberty" in her marriage.  Note that it is her role as wife that is suffocating, not her role as mother, since she has her babies with her in Biloxi.  Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" presents a parallel to Clarisse, a minor character, by telling the story of Mrs. Mallard, the protagonist, if you wanted more details on the writer's views on marriage.

The main character of "The Storm," Calixta, fulfills her "birthright"--the right of a woman to express and experience true passion--during her spontaneous encounter with Alcee.  She is a "revelation," a "creamy lily that the sun invites to contribute its breath and perfume to the undying life of the world."  Her "generous abundance" of passion, expressed "without guile or trickery," even leads Alcee to "depths of his own sensuous nature that had never yet been reached."  As a spontaneous pair, the two "swoon together at the very borderland of life's mystery." 

The struggles of women, according to Chopin, include the lack of liberty in marriage, and the lack of true, spontaneous passion.  The latter, at least, in a birthright. 

Notice, too, that the "over-scrupulous housewife" that Bobinot is afraid to come home to is transformed by true passion into the doting mother and wife who "seemed to express nothing but satisfaction at their safe return."  Bobinot and Bibi are happy at the close of the story.  Calixta is a better wife, and Alcee a better husband.  Even Clarisse reaps the benefits of this true passion. 

"So the storm passed [the literal and figurative] and everyone was happy."    

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The Storm

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