What is Kate Chopin's writing style in "The Story of an Hour", "At the 'Cadian Ball", and "The Storm"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Unlike her late Victorian contemporaries, Oscar Wilde and Thomas Hardy, who wrote in a Ciceronian style that emphasizes balance with parallelism and antithesis with opposition for emphasis, Kate Chopin wrote in a direct, understated style that is clear, straightforward, and economical--more like modern writers. She uses a detached third-person point of view. In fact, in "The Storm," she deftly manipulates the point of view to underscore the theme of the story as she moves from the scenes with Alcee and Calixta and Bobinot and Bibi. Moreover, she was quite avant-garde with her explicit detail in the lovemaking scene of this story and the suggestiveness of carnality in the prequel "At the 'Cadian Ball," as well as the feminist element--a scene of course, which received condemnation from Victorian critics. 

Despite using such economical sentences at times, ["That was good" in the "At the 'Cadian Ball"] Chopin is able to create a fluidity to her text even when she moves from English to French to Cajun dialect and back to English. Indeed, she exhibits much proficiency with the elements of language as she employs foreshadowing and symbolism and irony with masterful skill. For instance, in "The Story of an Hour" Chopin cleverly employs the ironic meaning of joy at the end of the narrative as well as the double meaning of "a heart trouble" in the opening sentence.

Truly, Chopin's style has more in common with the twentieth century writers who also employed more dialogue and explicit detail, symbolism, and a singleness of purpose. Of course, her feminist story, "The Story of an Hour" as well as the action of the passionate Calixta are certainly not in pace with writing of her age. In fact, she is now considered as a forerunner of the feminist authors of Southern or Catholic background such as Zelda Fitzgerald.

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The Story of an Hour

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