What happens in The Storm?

In "The Storm," Alcée stops at Calixta's house to get out of the rain. Alcée and Calixta were in love once, and the storm reignites their passion. Both of them, however, are married to different people, and they know that when the storm ends they must part forever.

  • Bobinôt and his son, Bibi, are at the market when the storm comes. Bobinôt's wife, Calixta, is at home, where Alcée seeks shelter from the storm.

  • Six years prior to this storm, Calixta and Alcée ran away together to have an affair. A year later, they intended to run away together again, but their plans were ruined when Clarisse convinced Alcée to marry her. Calixta married Bobinôt.

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

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Summary

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

While Bobinôt and his son, Bibi, are shopping at Friedheimer’s store, the air becomes still. Dark clouds roll in from the west, and thunder rumbles in the distance. Father and son decide to wait inside until the storm passes instead of trying to reach home. When Bibi suggests that Calixta may be frightened to be alone, Bobinôt reassures him that she will be all right.

The approaching storm does not, in fact, worry her. She merely closes the doors and windows and then goes to gather the clothes hanging outside. As she steps onto the porch, she sees Alcée Laballière ride through the gate to seek shelter from the rain.

From “At the ’Cadian Ball,” to which “The Storm” is a sequel, the reader knows that six years earlier Calixta and Alcée had gone to Assumption together in a fit of passion, and the following year they were about to have another romantic rendezvous in New Orleans when Clarisse intervened. In love with Alcée and suspecting his intentions, Clarisse had proposed marriage. He agreed, and Calixta had then yielded to Bobinôt’s suit.

Despite the passage of time and their marriages, Calixta and Alcée’s passion for each other has not abated. As they stand at a window, lightning strikes a chinaberry tree. Calixta, startled, staggers backward into Alcée’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; now, as the storm rages, they make passionate love. When the storm subsides, they know that they must separate, at least temporarily.

Bobinôt and Bibi walk home, pausing at the well outside to clean themselves as well as they can before entering the house. Calixta is a fastidious housekeeper, and they fear the reception they will receive after trudging home in the mud. Bobinôt is ready with apologies and explanations, but he needs none. Calixta is overjoyed to see her family and delighted with the can of shrimps that Bobinôt has brought her.

Alcée is as happy as Calixta. His wife has gone to Biloxi, Mississippi, for a vacation, and he writes her “a loving letter, full of tender solicitude” that night, telling her to stay as long as she wants. He says that he misses her, but he puts her pleasure above his own.

Clarisse is happy, too, when she receives the letter. She loves her husband, but the vacation is her first taste of freedom since her marriage. She intends to accept Alcée’s offer to stay in Biloxi longer...

(The entire section is 737 words.)