What is the theme of "The Storm" by Kate Chopin?

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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One possible theme is finding happiness and fulfillment through unconventional means.  The main character is a woman who finds incredible gratification in an elicit affair with an old acquaintance.  Chopin seems to be indicating that freedom and happiness can be found outside of regular moral conventions of the time.  Calixta, who commits the affair, seems perfectly happy, rejoicing, and almost giddy afterwards, treating her husband and son with unusual kindness and levity.  So, even though Calixta seemed to love her husband, and had a husband who, by all outward signs, loved his wife, she still found even more fulfillment through satisfying her sexual desires with another man.  Chopin's stories often have this theme of women finding happiness in unconventional ways; take "The Story of an Hour" for example, where the main character, a housewife, is ecstatically happy at the freedom that her husband's death gives her.  This theme is seen through "The Storm" as a woman, after surrendering to an affair-which was scandalous and wrong in her society-actually seemed to gain quite a bit of happiness from it.

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edcon | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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"The Storm" speaks to the belief that surrendering to passion need not have disastrous consequences, despite what conventional morality suggests.  The tryst that Calixta and Alce indulge in is consensual, and their passion is unrestrained.  As her character is introduced, Calixta is completely immersed in her sewing—so much so, in fact, that she doesn't notice the approaching storm. She is perspiring, her gown loosened and "her yellow hair, disheveled by the wind and rain, kinked more stubbornly than ever about her ears and temples." She is presented as entirely natural and engaged in life, which makes her spontaneous lovemaking with Alce seem in keeping with her character.  When their passion is spent and they move to return to their lives, Alce "turned and smiled at her with a beaming face; and she lifted her pretty chin in the air and laughed aloud." Neither of them are wracked with guilt, and they do not make promises to one another or express regret.

When Bobint and Bibi return home, Calixta greets them lovingly and effusively.  She is as "in the moment" with them as she had been with her sewing and her tryst with Alce. Whether she is in the domestic sphere or elsewhere, she is passionate, authentic and natural.

Alce composes a loving letter to his vacationing wife, Clarisse, that tells her she can stay away as long as she likes and that "health and pleasure were the first things to be considered." Clarisse's reaction is that "the first free breath since her marriage seemed to restore the pleasant liberty of her maiden days."

"The Storm" focuses on Calixta and Clarisse and condones their pursuit of pleasure in whatever form it takes. Though Alce enjoys the same freedoms, as a man, Chopin implies that they were never in question. The theme is decidedly feminist in that each woman values self-liberation to pursue her passion without the burden of guilt imposed by societal expectations for women.

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