In Kate Chopin's "The Storm," how does the weather help to create the story's atmosphere?

The storm in the story "The Storm" by Kate Chopin helps to create the story's atmosphere. It represents the whirlwind of unsatisfied passion stored within Calixta and Alcée after their parting from one another, a whirlwind which is briefly regenerated during their first personal encounter in years.

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In this "Sequel to the 'Cadian Ball," as the subtitle to Kate Chopin's story reads, the storm that "burst" is used in a metaphoric sense as well as a realistic one. The metaphor of the storm represents the whirlwind of unsatisfied passion stored within Calixta and Alcée after their parting from one...

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In this "Sequel to the 'Cadian Ball," as the subtitle to Kate Chopin's story reads, the storm that "burst" is used in a metaphoric sense as well as a realistic one. The metaphor of the storm represents the whirlwind of unsatisfied passion stored within Calixta and Alcée after their parting from one another, a whirlwind which is briefly regenerated during their first personal encounter in years.

When Alcée Laballière unexpectedly rides up on his horse to the gate of Calixta's home, he asks if he may wait on her gallery until the raging storm subsides. Politely, Calixta replies that he may. Soon, however, his intention to remain outside becomes impractical, as the rain beats down in torrents. So, he joins Calixta inside ,where she looks out the window in concern for her husband and son, who departed some time ago for Freidheimer's store.

The playing of the lightning was incessant. A bolt struck a tall chinaberry 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.

In this stormy atmosphere of unleashed natural energy, the frightened Calixta covers her eyes and cries out as the lightning flashes. She staggers backward into Alcée, who encircles her in his arm. For a moment, he draws her close to him in a spasm of emotional energy. This brief contact with Calixta awakens his "old-time...desire for her flesh." When he asks her if she remembers Assumption, where he had kissed her passionately a few years ago, her emotions also are again aroused, and they engage in lovemaking. As the storm subsides, so, too, do their feelings, and Alcée departs.

Like the thunderstorm, the atmosphere of heightened emotion in which Calixta and Alcée find expression brings them emotional release and refreshment. When her husband and son return, Calixta is overjoyed to see them and does not scold her husband, Bobinôt. Likewise, the reinvigorated Alcée writes to his wife, who is named Clarisse, and with leniency and consideration, he gives her permission to stay on in Biloxi with her old friends and enjoy herself.

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The storm is a metaphor for the rising passion between Calixta and Alcée. In literary terms, this is also called the "pathetic fallacy." The "pathetic" term refers to "pathos" which means to evoke emotion or sympathy. Note the "path" in the words sympathy and empathy as well. The pathetic fallacy, in this case, suggests that nature (the storm) is mirroring or showing empathy for the characters, Calixta and Alcée. As the energy of the storm rises, so does the sexual tension between these two characters.

Being in the house, with doors and windows closed, the temperature in the house increases. This parallels the rising "heat" and tension between Calixta and Alcée.

A bolt of lightning strikes a tree and this dramatic moment signals the moment when Alcée moves to embrace Calixta:

Calixta put her hands to her eyes, and with a cry, staggered backward. Alcée's arm encircled her, and for an instant he drew her close and spasmodically to him.

Their brief encounter ends when the storm ends. Their passion parallels the energy of the storm. When the storm is over, Alcée rides off.

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