In Kate Chopin's "A Night in Acadie," what is an example of binary opposition?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Kate Chopin story "A Night in Arcadie" opens with binary opposition representing binary system. Binary opposition (BO) is used in contemporary literary criticism by structuralist, post-structuralist and post-colonialist critics. In brief, binary opposition theory states that important concepts in Western civilization and literature are built upon opposition between two polar opposites and that at the moment or event at which this binary opposition contradicts itself, the authority of the concept represented by the binary opposition is undermined and deconstructed, in other words, made ineffectual.

Tel├Ęsphore wants to go to a place where the female presence is an absence: he, the male, wants to go to Marksville (aptly given a male name) where the females Elvina, Amaranthe and Ma'me Valtour will not be present. Thus Chopin introduces two of the classic binary oppositions in the binary system, (1) the male - female binary and (2) the presence - absence binary. In binary theory, an illusionary order is said to dominate in which one polar opposite has dominance over the other, thus disempowering the other. According to binary theory, it is these binaries that reveal the deep structure of literature, such as "A Night in Acadie," and carry the meaning of the narrative.