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What details in "The Storm" emphasize Bobinot's love for his wife and his misunderstanding of her nature?

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Details in "The Storm" that emphasize Bobinôt's love for his wife include his purchase of Calixta's favorite shrimps and his efforts to clean himself and their son before returning home. His misunderstanding of her nature is highlighted by his unnecessary worry about her reaction to their muddy appearance, expecting disapproval but instead receiving her joyful relief and affection.

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In Kate Chopin's 1898 short story, The Storm, it's the little things that show how much Bobinôt loves his wife, Calixta.

Bobinôt arose and going across to the counter purchased a can of shrimps, of which Calixta was very fond. Then he returned to his perch on the keg and sat stolidly holding the can of shrimps while the storm burst.

He sat on the keg, holding the can of shrimps, thinking about her, worrying about her safety during the heavy Louisiana thunderstorm.

Calixta's is absolutely thrilled with the shrimps when Bobinôt presents them to her after he and little Bibi return home after the storm.

“I brought you some shrimps, Calixta,” offered Bobinôt, hauling the can from his ample side pocket and laying it on the table.

“Shrimps! Oh, Bobinôt! you too good fo‟ anything!” and she gave him a smacking kiss on the cheek that resounded, “J’vous réponds, we‟ll have a feas‟ to-night! umph-umph!”

Clearly, Bobinôt knows what Calixta likes, and he's willing to make the effort to please her, even with a can of shrimps.

Before they went into the house, however, Bobinôt took great pains to clean the mud and other evidence of "their tramp over heavy roads and through wet fields" from himself and four-year-old Bibi so they wouldn't displease Calixta.

Bobinôts explanations and apologies which he had been composing all along the way, died on his lips as Calixta felt him to see if he were dry, and seemed to express nothing but satisfaction at their safe return.

This also shows that Bobinôt doesn't fully comprehend Calixta's nature. He composed his apologies for his and Bibi's appearance expecting a stern looking-over and a demanding "Where have you been?" and a "What took you so long?" from his "over-scrupulous housewife" when he and Bibi came into the house.

Instead, he and Bibi are greeted by a loving wife and mother full of hugs and kisses for them who was much more concerned about their safe return home than a little mud on their trousers.

What Bobinôt sees when he looks at Calixta also seems to be somewhat different from what Calixta's old boyfriend, Alcée Laballière, sees when he looks at her.

Whereas Bobinôt sees an "over-scrupulous housewife" who sometimes surprises him with hugs and kisses, Alcée sees, and experiences, a Calixta who's "lost nothing of her vivacity," and who's as spontaneous, uninhibited, and passionate as she had been when they were boyfriend and girlfriend five or so years ago.

The rain was over; and the sun was turning the glistening green world into a palace of gems. Calixta, on the gallery, watched Alcée ride away. He turned and smiled at her with a beaming face; and she lifted her pretty chin in the air and laughed aloud.

Bobinôt would likely be very surprised to see such a smile and hear his "over-scrupulous housewife" laughing aloud like that.

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Because of the storm, Bobinôt, Calixta's husband, and Bibi, the son, must remain at Freidheimer's store until the sky clears. After some time, the rain is over and the sun turns "the glistening green world into a palace of gems." So, father and son begin to head homeward.

After having trudged through the wet grass and mud, father and son stop at a cistern to "make themselves presentable" because Calixta is an "over-scrupulous housewife." Despite having scraped off as much mud as they can from their pants and shoes, father and son prepare for the worst when they reach home, and they enter cautiously. But since she has been concerned about them with such a storm as has come through, Calixta is delighted when father and son arrive home, expressing her gratitude that they are both all right.

Bobinôt's explanations and apologies, which he had been composing all along the way, died on his lips as Calixta felt him to see if he were dry, and seemed to express nothing but satisfaction at their safe return.

It is then that Bobinôt pulls out the peace offering that he has purchased, and Calixta is delighted at the sight of the shrimp. "We'll have a feas' to night! umph! umph!" she responds. This excitement causes Bobinôt and Bibi to relax after having worried about how Calixta would react if they returned so long after the storm. Bobinôt and Bibi begin to feel at ease now that they discover Calixta is in a good mood. The family laughs so much and so loudly that "...anyone might have heard them as far away as the Labalieres'."

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After Bobinot and Bibi get home from walking through the rain and muddy fields, he goes to great lengths to clean them both off before they enter the house.  The text states that "He scraped the mud off Bibi's bare legs and feet with a stick and carefully removed all traces from his heavy brogans" and then went into the house, hopefull Calixta wouldn't be mad about the mess.  This extreme care indicates that he cares what his wife thinks, wants to please her, and loves her.  Next, he offers her some shrimp, another token of his affection.  When they sit down to eat, "they laughed much and..loud", so he obviously enjoys her company and being with her.  But this also indicates that he is a bit naive about her, and doesn't know her that well.  A wife who is usually "over-scrupulous" for whom he had "explanations and apologies which he had been composing all along the way" for his muddy appearance, and had been "fearful" of her chastisement when he entered the house, to be full of concern and laughter should have tipped him off a bit as to the fact that something was different.  He is oblivious to his wife's fickle fidelity, and can't seem to read her moods very well.  But he appears to love her.

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What details in Kate Chopin's story "The Storm" emphasize the fact that Bobinôt loves his wife? What details reveal how imperfectly he comprehends her nature?

In Kate Chopin’s short story “The Storm,” the love of Bobinôt for his wife Calixta is suggested in a variety of ways, including the following:

  • As the storm approaches, Bobinôt and his young son Bibi are distant from their home (where Calixta is alone in the threatening weather). In the store in which he and Bibi are waiting for the storm to pass, Bobinôt purchases a can of shrimp, because he knows that Calixta is “very fond” of shrimp.
  • Apparently the story is set in the late nineteenth century, rather than before the Civil War (see the discussion at katechopin.org). This is important, because apparently Bobinôt is paying for a woman named Sylvie to come into the house and help Calixta with the housework. (Sylvie does not seem to be a slave but seems to be hired help.) The fact that Bobinôt hires someone to help his wife implies that he loves her.
  • At the end of the introductory passage, Bibi puts his hand on Bobinôt’s knee, apparently to reassure him. Since Bibi and Bobinôt are relatively safe in the store as the storm hits, perhaps Bibi senses that his father is worrying about the safety of Calixta. This possibility is reinforced by the first sentence of Part II, which mentions that Calixta herself is not worried about her safety.
  • When Bobinôt and Bibi return home after the storm, Bobinôt is concerned that they should “make themselves presentable” to Calixta – a phrase suggesting that he cares about her opinion of them and that he wants to appear to be (as he indeed seems to be) a good father to their child. Bobinôt is particularly concerned about what Calixta will say about the appearance of Bibi. If Bobinôt did not care for Calixta, he probably would not be very concerned about her opinions.
  • Calixta’s warm welcome to Bibi and to Bobinôt, while perhaps tinged with a bit of guilt, does seem to express genuine affection, both for her son and for her husband. It is unlikely that Calixta would express such affection for Bobinôt if she did not love Bobinôt, at least on some level, and if she did not in turn sense his love for her.
  • The fact that Calixta praises Bobinôt for the shrimp, rather than merely sullenly and silently accepting the gift, again implies their mutual affection:

"Shrimps! Oh, Bobinôt! you too good fo' anything!" and she gave him a smacking kiss on the cheek . . . ."

Again, her love for Bobinôt is probably in part a response to her sense that he loves her. The laughter the small family shares as they eat the shrimps again suggests love all around.

Unfortunately, Bobinôt fails to comprehend his wife’s complex nature as deeply as he might. She does indeed seem to love Bobinôt on some level, but various details suggest that her love is not as complete as it could be. Such details include the following:

  • Her longing for physical passion, as in her memories of her earlier relationship with Alcée at Assumption (a relationship described in Chopin’s story “At the ’Cadian Ball”).
  • Her willingness to commit adultery with Alcée, with no attempt at resistance at all, and apparently with no deep regrets or moral scruples.
  • The fact that Alcée was always the man she most wanted, and that Bobinôt had merely been the man for whom she had “settled.”

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