Style and Technique
The storm is the story’s central metaphor, representing the passion of Calixta and Alcée. By linking the two, Chopin indicates that the lovers’ feelings are natural and therefore not subject to moral censure. She reinforces this idea through other imagery drawn from nature, likening Alcée to the sun and Calixta to a lily and a pomegranate. Not only do these images come from nature, but they also derive from the biblical book The Song of Songs, giving a kind of religious sanction to the lovers’ union.
The storm is not only natural but also powerful, like the passions it symbolizes. While Calixta and Alcée make love, the thunder crashes and the elements roar; the passing of the storm indicates their physical exhaustion. While these passions, like the storm, are strong, they are not destructive. The storm does little damage, and when it passes the sun emerges, “turning the glistening green world into a palace of gems.” The rain leaves the world a happier and more beautiful place, just as the lovers part with joy in their hearts. Alcée leaves with a smile, and Calixta answers him with laughter.
Chopin uses language to indicate that this joy derives from the lovers’ equality. He is like the sun and she is a “white flame.” She cushions but also clasps him, being both active and passive. His heart beats “like a hammer upon her” while she “strokes his shoulders.” They “swoon together at the very borderland of life’s mystery.” In this union of true love there is neither master nor mastered—simply two partners who share desire and fulfillment. For Chopin, that is the only proper relationship between the sexes, the only one likely to bring happiness within marriage, or outside it.