The Storm Summary

"The Storm" is a short story by Kate Chopin in which Alcée escapes from a storm at the home of his former lover, Calixta. The storm reignites their passion.

  • Alcée seeks shelter from a storm at the home of his former lover, Calixta, while Calixta's husband and son are at the market.

  • Six years ago, Calixta and Alcée had an affair. They intended to run away together again, but they both married other people instead.

  • During the storm, Calixta and Alcée reignite their passion. However, both know that their relationship cannot continue, and Alcée leaves before Calixta's family returns.

Summary

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Last Updated on June 16, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 537

When the story begins, a man called Bobinôt and his four-year-old son, Bibi, see that a storm is quickly approaching, and they decide to wait it out at Friedheimer’s, the store they have been visiting. Bobinôt buys a can of shrimp for his wife, Calixta, hoping she won’t feel too uneasy about their safety, as she is home alone. He reassures Bibi, who is worried about her, that Calixta will be fine. The two sit on kegs by the door of the wooden shop, and Bibi feels no fear of the storm.

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At home, Calixta is sewing, and when she realizes the rain is coming, she closes up the house and goes outside to collect the laundry from the line. Alcée Laballière, a former love of Calixta’s, stops on horseback to ask if he can take shelter on her porch, but it is raining so hard that she invites him into the house’s interior. It is very hot. Alcée sits down in a rocking chair, and Calixta expresses a hope that the levees will hold and that Bobinôt and Bibi have stayed at Friedheimer’s. Alcée then joins Calixta at the window, where she has begun watching the storm and wiping condensation from the windowpane.

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Alcée is still very attracted to Calixta, and when she becomes frightened by a lightning bolt striking a nearby chinaberry tree, he pulls her to him. He tries to comfort her in her fear for her son and her house, but he is quickly aroused by her red lips, her white neck, and her full bosom. It is clear that she desires him, too, and they kiss, remembering aloud a time when they had kissed like this in the past. Their kissing continues until they are passionately making love together. Chopin offers a fairly explicit description of their lovemaking, especially considering the year in which this story was published (1898). Although both want to fall asleep afterward, they do not dare. The storm outside passes, and Alcée rides away from Calixta’s house, both of them happy.

Bobinôt and Bibi make their way home, and when they reach the cistern, Bobinôt tries to wash away the mud they have accumulated on their walk back so as not to alarm Calixta, who is a fastidious housekeeper. She is making supper and coffee as they arrive, and she fusses over them, expressing “nothing but satisfaction” at their arrival. She is grateful for the gift of the can of shrimp and anticipates the feast they will have that night. They have a joyful family meal together, with no hint of any trouble or concern.

Alcée, meanwhile, writes to his wife, Clarisse, who is on vacation in Biloxi, Mississippi, telling her to extend her stay if she’d like. He misses her, but there is no need for her and the children to hurry back. Clarisse is happy to receive this message, as she feels free for the first time in her marriage and is not anxious to return to her husband’s bed. Apparently, their spouses do not really share the depth of passion that Calixta and Alcée feel.

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