What general attitude about sex, love, and marriage does Kate Chopin imply in "The Storm" and what is evidence in the story to support it?I have read the story two times and maybe it is me, but I...

What general attitude about sex, love, and marriage does Kate Chopin imply in "The Storm" and what is evidence in the story to support it?

I have read the story two times and maybe it is me, but I am not sure that I can infer to what Chopin was implying. I know what I think, but I do not believe that what Chopin was saying is what I am thinking. Please help.

Expert Answers
laurniko eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Storm," Kate Chopin implies that sexual fulfillment—even outside marriage—is positive and can improve the strength and happiness of a relationship between two people. Chopin doesn't appear to believe that adultery is a negative act that damages marriages; instead, her characters are all happier and more fulfilled after the affair during the storm, even the spouses who are unaware of the act.

When Alcée comes to Calixta during the storm, they let their passion take over and have sex with each other in Calixta's home while her husband and son are at the store. This isn't written to be a negative act; Chopin doesn't have either of the characters worry about or lament their adulterous relationship. Instead, Alcée comforts Calixta and then reminds her of a time in the past when they embraced. Back when she was "still inviolate" and unwilling to have sex, they'd only exchanged kisses.

Now, though, the storm is forgotten as they lie on the couch and make love. 

When the storm is over, there is no talk of their marriages. There are no recriminations. Instead, Alcée leaves, and both smile. Bobinôt, Calixta's husband, arrives home ready to apologize for his absence, but instead, she greets him with kisses and "nothing but satisfaction at their safe return."

Alcée writes to Clarisse. Even though he misses her, he urges her and their children to stay away longer on their trip if it makes her happy. When Clarisse reads it, Chopin writes: "And the first free breath since her marriage seemed to restore the pleasant liberty of her maiden days." Clarisse, though she doesn't know about the affair, appreciates the same pleasure and agency outside of her marriage, though in a different way than Alcée did with Calixta.

By representing the adulterous relationship in an only positive light, having both members of each marriage happier after the storm, and having no consequences other than happiness and pleasure for what occurred during the storm, Chopin shows her belief that happiness can be found outside of marriage. She doesn't seem to dislike marriage; both couples seem devoted, loving, and happy to be together. Instead, Chopin implies that marriage isn't the only thing that matters and that it can actually be strengthened when a person pursues bliss outside of the bonds of matrimony.

mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chopin, as in many of her other stories, is implying that marriage is not necessarily happiness and bliss for all women.  In Chopin's time period, women were born and bred to be married. That was the end goal, and the supposed end to all woes and misery.  Marriage was the "happily ever after" of fairy tales.  In Chopin's time, to express dissatisfaction with marriage was rare, looked down upon, and any sort of independence--especially sexual independence--was highly taboo.  But, in "The Storm," we see a woman who not only strays outside the boudaries of accepted morals in marriage, but finds supreme joy and satisfaction in doing so.

In the story, Calixta is painted as a woman who does not have much love or concern for her husband and son, and who is a bit irritable and tempermental around them.  Right at the beginning it states that she "felt no uneasiness for their safety," referring to her husband and son, who were caught in the middle of an awful rainstorm.  And, when they come home, they very carefully remove the mud from their shoes for fear of "meeting with an over-scrupulous housewife," worried about Calixta's wrath at them having gotten mud all over the house.  So, Calixta seems only to notice her family when she is annoyed with them.  With this, Chopin seems to indicate that Calixta does not find happiness, bliss and total fulfillment with marriage and family, like she is "supposed" to.

Then, look at the descriptions of her with Alcee after their tryst.  It states that "she lifted her pretty chin in the air and laughed aloud," filled with joy and happiness.  And, she is so happy after her affair that she doesn't even get mad at her son and husband for getting mud in the house.  They were all so happy that "they laughed so much and so loud" that anyone peeking in might think they were the perfectly contented family.

It isn't until after her affair that Calixta is happy, relaxed, and at home.  Chopin seems to be indicating that women need to have sexual liberties, and in fact, it would help them to feel more fulfilled.  I hope that these thoughts help a bit; good luc!