The Storm Themes

The three main themes in The Storm are liberation, physical satisfaction, and traditional roles.

  • Liberation: Calixta and Alcée's affair is liberating for them both, allowing them to escape the confining traditional roles they play in their marriages.
  • Physical satisfaction: Calixta and Alcée find physical satisfaction with each other that they do not find in their marriages.
  • Traditional roles: The traditional roles of husband and wife are confining for both Calixta and Alcée.


Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on September 6, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 565

Passion and Desire

The storm that rages outside reads as a symbol of the storm that breaks inside when Alcée and Calixta finally act on the sexual passion they have, evidently, felt for quite a long time. Just as the lightning strikes the chinaberry tree in the yard, Calixta’s passion is compared to a “white flame” that penetrates Alcée’s nature. As the rain pours down outside, Calixta’s mouth is compared to a “fountain of delight.” The former lovers’ passion is compared to elements of the storm over and over again; the text associates it with something powerful and unstoppable, something that Calixta and Alcée could not have ignored any more than they could have ignored the storm outside.

Frightened by the lightning that strikes a tree in her yard, Calixta grows more and more agitated in Alcée’s presence, and Alcée grows more and more aware of his desire for Calixta.

The contact of her warm, palpitating body when he had unthinkingly drawn her into his arms, had aroused all the old-time infatuation and desire for her flesh.

Alcée is “disturbed” by the sight of her neck and the tops of her breasts, and he seems helpless to do anything other than to pull her toward him and kiss her. His voice breaks from the passion he feels when he tries to speak to her. Just as the storm must find release, so must their passion. This was a controversial idea in the late nineteenth century, when Chopin wrote the story; Victorian morality dictated that people—especially women—show restraint and propriety with regard to sexuality. The conventions of Victorian society, as well as the highly charged relationship between Calixta and Alcée, are evident in the fact that Calixta has not seen Alcée “very often since her marriage, and never alone.” To be alone with Alcée would have been considered improper, and indeed, the meeting between the two quickly becomes a passionate rendezvous.

Love and Marriage

Compared to the passion Calixta experiences with Alcée, the can of shrimp her husband, Bobinôt, thoughtfully purchases for her at the store seems rather mundane and trivial. However, this is evidently how love is expressed in their household, just as Calixta expresses her love with clean laundry and fussing over her family once they make it home. Clarisse, Alcée’s wife, is happy to receive the letter in which he suggests that she remain away from home for a while longer. Her trip has led to the “first free breath since her marriage,” and she does not look forward to sharing “their intimate conjugal life” again.

Through her characters’ experiences, Chopin implies—quite radically for her era, or even our own—that a relationship can be refreshed and strengthened by exploring one’s desires outside of marriage. For Calixta and Alcée, that means expressing their long-buried passion for one another, while for Clarisse, it means spending time away from her husband and the demands of married life, including sex. Each character seems to love their spouse and want them to be happy; they do not act out of malice or spite, but out of desire and affection. Yet it is only after a temporary separation and a taste of freedom, the text suggests, that two people can truly enjoy being together once more.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access