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Last Updated September 6, 2023.

Kate Chopin’s story “The Storm” was written in 1898 and first published posthumously in 1969. It is a sequel to Chopin’s 1892 story “At the ’Cadian Ball,” which “The Storm” far surpassed in popularity. Readers familiar with “At the ’Cadian Ball” would recognize the central characters of Calixta and Alcée, who, in the earlier story, sneak away from a ball together to reminisce about their past relationship but end up married to other people.

The titular storm is the central symbol of the later text. There is, obviously, the very real and literal storm that approaches Calixta's home and releases torrents of rain, cracks of lightning, and crashes of thunder; however, there is also the storm of passion that erupts just as suddenly and almost as shockingly within Calixta's home when her former lover, Alcée Laballière, stops to ask if he can take shelter on the porch for safety. Just as one storm arrived when her husband and son were away from home, the other, figurative, storm cannot arrive without their being gone.

Calixta’s window is misted over with moisture from the storm, and Calixta is getting hotter as well. The thunder rattles and lightning strikes while her “warm, palpitating body” seems to draw Alcée’s to her. Her face is “warm and steaming” from the heat and humidity. It is as though the temperature, both literal and figurative, rises as the two spend more time together. Her eyes are a “liquid blue,” just like the raindrops falling from the sky outside. The narrator says that the two of them “did not heed the crashing torrents, and the roar of the elements made her laugh as she lay in his arms.” Since the pair pays no attention to the weather outside once they begin their passionate tryst, readers can assume that the elemental roars that make Calixta laugh are coming from the two of them, from the release of their dual passion so long repressed. Her passion is described as being “like a white flame,” not altogether dissimilar from the lightning that cracks, striking the chinaberry tree out front of her house. After their liaison, Calixta’s hand strokes Alcée’s back “with a soothing rhythm,” just as the “rain beat softly upon the shingles,” making them feel sleepy.

Once the storm has passed, the sun comes out and Alcee’s face is “beaming,” a word that invites a comparison to a similar source of light. In short, then, with each stage of the storm, the passion Calixta and Alcée seem to have contained for so long finds release as well. In the end, when the narrator says, “So the storm passed and everyone was happy,” they are evidently referring to both the stormy weather and the storm of passion that seems to have satisfied Calixta and Alcée. Significantly, their spouses are satisfied as well: Calixta’s husband and son receive a warm welcome and a home-cooked meal from Calixta when they return after the storm, and Alcée’s wife is granted a much-needed reprieve from married life when Alcée writes to her inviting her to extend her stay in Mississippi. This happy outcome of marital infidelity—not to mention the scene of the infidelity itself—would likely have scandalized Victorian readers had the story been published at the time of its composition.

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