In "The Storm," should Calixta be considered amoral or immoral?

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Storm" by Kate Chopin attempts to make adultery amoral. Told in third person point of view, the story describes the events of one stormy afternoon.  Calixta, the protagonist, stays at home while her husband and son go off  to town. A storm approaches and worries Calixta. Just as she steps out on the porch,  an old beau, Alcee,  now married himself, rides up and asks for shelter during the storm.

From the beginning there is tension between Alcee and Calixta.  Their time together was left unfinished.  As the two watch the storm, lightning strikes a tree. Calixta is startled and staggers backward into Alcee's arms; this physical contact arouses “all the old-time infatuation and desire for her flesh.”

Alcée asks, “Do you remember — in Assumption, Calixta?” She does indeed. There they had kissed repeatedly...

As the storm rages, they make passionate love. When the storm subsides, they know that they must each go their separate ways.  Alcee returns to his home.  His wife is away;  he writes her a letter encouraging her to stay longer. Calixta's family returns and she is overjoyed to see that they have survived the storm unharmed. 

The storm serves as the core of the story. The storm’s rage increases and so does the sexual passion. Alcee and Calixta's sexual encounter surpasses either of their marital lovemaking.

Chopin had to be careful with her story because she was writing during a sexually repressed time for women.  Adultery was not accepted in any form in society, at least not for a woman.

Alcee and Calixta are not unhappy in their marriages; but they were not done with each other. Alcee’s wife was not unhappy in her marriage; however, like many women, she was happy to get away from the demands of a husband. 

Calixta’s sin is not discovered. 

The rain was over; and the sun was turning the glistening green world into a palace of gems. Calixta, on the gallery, watched Alcée ride away. He turned and smiled at her with a beaming face; and she lifted her pretty chin in the air and laughed aloud.

Her husband feels no suspicion. Should Calixta be judged as an adultress?  Chopin would say “no.” It was the heat of the moment and a promise that had to be fulfilled.  Calixta loves her husband and child. She is a good wife and mother. There should be no right or wrong question involved. It happened, and it is over.

Chopin had to be careful with her story because she was writing during a sexually repressed time for women. Adultery was not accepted in any form in society, at least not for a woman.

In truth, any adultery is immoral. Calixta knew what she was doing. Although Alcee seems to possess her, it does not matter. Sex with another man when one is married is still wrong and against all levels of morality. 

Read the study guide:
The Storm

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