Student Question

In The Storm by Kate Chopin, what is the imagery's significance and Kate's stance on the spontaneous sexual encounter?

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The reader is immediately drawn into The Storm by Kate Chopin, even before it starts. The title introduces the reader to the metaphorical, symbolic storm that will follow. A storm is a regularly-occurring, natural phenomenon and has the potential to wreak havoc and change lives, much like the lovers and their physical needs, knowing no boundaries and not restricted by any intervention. However, the storm is " a palace of gems," it has the power to refresh and introduces new life, overriding any fear that a storm can be destructive, much like a forbidden love.

Pathetic fallacy then is reflected in The Storm as the feelings and emotions correlate to the weather; the build up of the storm reveals the growing tension between Alcee and Calixta as they stand watching; a "blinding glare" also distorting their own understanding of what is happening between them. Calixta's "fear" as the chinaberry tree is struck and Alcee's "unthinking" actions are replaced by "a drowsy gleam"as they give in to their passions. The storm outside reaches its peak much as their passion reaches its highpoint. As "the growl of the thunder" passes, so too do they realize that they cannot "yield" to the "drowsiness" and contentment that has replaced their passion. The soft rain follows and, with it, a refreshed and renewed earth. The lovers experience emotions similar to the calm after the storm. Alcee's "beaming face" could be the rainbow that brings hope of a bright day - or future.

Kate Chopin wants to persuade the reader not to be disturbed by the "natural" events that have just taken place but rather to feel satisfied that, in fact, everyone, including those that have no idea what really happened, seem content and may have even benefitted from the tryst. She does not want Calixta and Alcee to be judged. The storm has passed and "everyone was happy."      

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