The three characters in Kate Chopin’s short story “The Kiss” are Nathalie, Brantain and Harvy. As with much of Kate Chopin’s work, this story sheds light on women’s lives and their place in society. Here the story’s focus is on Nathalie’s efforts to ensure she marries Brantain, a rich man, despite her apparent attachment to Harvy.
The characters are seen to some extent through the eyes of the other characters so our knowledge of their characteristics are affected by this. Brantain, for example, is described as being “rather insignificant and unattractive” as well as “enormously rich." These characteristics are seen at least in part through the point of view of Nathalie. Likewise, Nathalie is described at first through the eyes of Brantain; she is apparently “very handsome” and also “composed."
Brantain is described as "a frank, blustering fellow without guile enough to conceal his feelings, and no desire to do so." He comes across as a well-meaning, jovial, kind man, somebody who Nathalie is easily able to manipulate.
Meanwhile Harvy is seen purely through his actions and conversation with Nathalie. He comes across as confident and self-assured. Unwilling to be manipulated by Nathalie, he refuses to enter into her games and does not simply do as she hopes.
Nathalie is shown throughout the story to be manipulative and calculating in the pursuit of her plan. Consider, for example, how she describes her relationship with Harvy to Brantain, saying exactly what is needed to reassure him and make sure he is still interested in her. Without this intervention, Brantain would simply have backed off, as he does in the scene where Harvy kisses Nathalie. Her hope is to marry well, and also maintain a romantic attachment with Harvy, and it looks, until the end. like she might succeed: “She felt like a chess player who, by the clever handling of his pieces, sees the game taking the course intended.”
We learn much about each character and their emotions and values by observing their reactions and responses. It is helpful to think, for example, what we learn about their attitudes to money, love, pride, friendship, honesty, and communication through the events of the story. At the same time, it is useful to add the context of the social setting to their values and consider how this impacts their behavior.