ENGLISH READING CIRCLE – SHORT STORY OF THE MONTH ANALYSIS: “THE STORM” BY KATE CHOPIN
Since our March meeting falls so soon after our previous one, this month’s story is short enough to read in one go: Kate Chopin’s “The Storm.” Originally written in 1898, it wasn’t published until 1969, 65 years after Chopin’s death. It isn’t hard to imagine why this particular story remained unpublished for so long. Its frank depiction of an adulterous rendezvous and, worse still, its bold endorsement of the characters’ indulgence of their passions, was well ahead of its time. But then much of Chopin’s work can be described this way. The unapologetic attitude she showcased in regard to women’s issues established her as an important and lonely voice that spoke for female autonomy and self-possession at a time when such themes were far from commonly explored terrain in American literature, and even less so in the American South. Perhaps one of the reasons Chopin’s work was often attacked by critics during her lifetime was the suggestion implicit in her writing that women, regardless of class, share a similar desire for self-creation, for the freedom to choose their own way. Essentially, “The Storm”, like much of Chopin’s oeuvre, is centered on a “domesticated” woman’s claim for power. The fact that the power she finds in her affair does not destroy her happy home, but instead revitalizes it, is the truly shocking and subversive element that places Chopin squarely in the American literary vanguard of the late-19th century.