In "The Storm," what is so symbolic about the setting?

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The setting of this story seems to be Louisiana during the late nineteenth century, as most of Chopin's works are. The French-Creole names of the main characters are a good clue to this. More specifically, however, the bulk of the story takes place during a massive storm with terrible winds,...

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The setting of this story seems to be Louisiana during the late nineteenth century, as most of Chopin's works are. The French-Creole names of the main characters are a good clue to this. More specifically, however, the bulk of the story takes place during a massive storm with terrible winds, thunder and lightning, and sheeting rain.

This aspect of the setting seems especially meaningful given the simultaneous figurative storm of passion that the plot relates. It is, in fact, the storm that keeps the husband and son of the protagonist, Calixta, away from home when they take shelter at a local general store and that drives her former beau, Alcée Laballière, to seek shelter in her house which he is passing when the storm breaks.

Just as the gale gathers force and grows more intense outside, so do the emotions of Calixta and Alcée inside. It is "stiflingly hot," and her body is "warm, palpitating"; her eyes are a "liquid blue" filled with a "drowsy gleam" (words that seem to connote a wetness, like the rain coming down outside). Inside the home, they do not "heed the crashing torrents" of the rain outside, and they give in to a storm of "passion" inside." As the rain poured down, Calixta's mouth became "a fountain of delight." In short, the intensity with which the ex-flames return to one another matches the intensity of the physical setting outside. This is why the setting is so symbolic of their intense but short-lived passionate interlude, and then it is back to regular life when the storm passes.

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