illustrated portrait of American author Kate Chopin

Kate Chopin

Start Free Trial

Summarize "Beyond the Bayou" by Kate Chopin.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"Beyond the Bayou" by Kate Chopin features a black woman called Jacqueline, but who is known as "La Folle" (Crazy Woman in French) because of the way that she has drawn "an imaginary line" through the woods that she never crosses, because she believed that past this line all is "flaming red." This "mania" has its origin in an incident that occurred during the Civil War, when her master had been wounded and staggered into Jacqueline's cabin "black with powder and crimson with blood." This incident had been so traumatic to the young Jacqueline that it had "stunned Jacqueline's childish reason," making the territory beyond the bayou, or stream, appear to her gaze as "aflame with blood colour, alternating black."

However, in spite of her apparent madness, she has formed an incredibly close attachment with the son of her master, that she calls Cheri and absolutely dotes upon. The feeling is clearly mutual. One day, Cheri, who is now a young boy rather than a baby, goes into the woods to shoot and accidentally shoots himself. Jacqueline picks him up and runs to get help, but when she gets to her imaginary border, she stops, screaming for help. Even though she faces "extreme terror," "love" impels her forward cross her imaginary dividing line to take him to get help for his wound. Although she is deeply shaken by what she is done, the next day she is able to get up and cross the dividing line again, but this time as if she had been crossing it all her life. As she mounts the steps to the veranda of her master, she is able to look at and delight in the beautiful view that is now no longer tainted with the terrible red that blighted her childhood. It appears that love was what was necessary to cure her of this "mania."

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial