In Kate Chopin’s short story “The Storm”, an extremely passionate wife and mother faces her past love and is left in an awkward situation which could potentially cause detriment for her family. The storm that actually takes place during this story serves as the key symbolic element throughout the entire text, as it also helps to tell the story in a representational manner.
As the story begins, Bobinôt and his son Bibi are sitting inside of a store watching outside at the approaching storm (page 32). They stare as the threatening weather draws nearer to them, and begin to worry about Calixta, the mother of Bibi and wife of Bobinôt. At this point, the storm has not yet taken full effect, and is not posing a great threat, just as all members of the family are content and not yet in any type of predicament. However, the storm foreshadows that something wicked is going to take place.
As the storm grows more intense, and the skies began to darken, Calixta began shutting windows and doors in order to prepare for the horrible weather (page 33). During this stage of the storm, the weather threatened those caught in its path, just as Alcee, Calixta’s former lover, will soon threaten her marriage and challenge her morals. The story has now reached its climax, along with the storm. Calixta is faced with the decision of allowing Alcee to come in out of the rain for safety or letting him stand on her gallery with the wind and rain beating down on him. Once she had chosen to allow him to enter her house, she began to panic and worry not only that what she was getting herself into was wrong, but also about her family who was still stuck out in the storm.
The panic Calixta felt was caused by mixed emotions and a sense of isolation from the rest of the world. The storm caused each person in the story to make a quick decision, for Bibi and Bobinôt the quick decision was where to go once the storm had begun, for Alcee the quick decision was if he should ask his ex for shelter, and Calixta was given the most problematical decision, which was whether or not to let Alcee come in. So, not only did the storm cause physical panic, it caused emotional panic as well. Another factor that attributes to the symbolism in this story is that, as the storm grows more intense, so do the actions of Calixta.
After Alcee and Calixta have their encounter and the storm is finally over, Alcee leaves, while Bibi and Bobinôt worry about their appearance and how Calixta will react to it once they arrive at home. Immediately after the storm has settled down and the earth can repair itself from any damage caused, Calixta and Alcee can also calm down and evaluate what is important to them in order to fix whatever may be off beam in their lives. As soon as her family returns home, Calixta expresses how happy and relieved she is to see them safe and back at home (page 35). Alcee decided to write a loving letter to his wife who was away with her babies, telling her to stay a while longer if she was having a nice time, and that although he missed them her happiness was more important to him (page 35).
Kate Chopin states in the very last line of the story that once the storm had passed everyone was happy, however, I beg to differ with this final statement (page 36). Although the sun did come out after the rain; that does not mean that the storm will never return. And just as quickly as the storm may return, that quickly so can any problem or difficult situation that may arise. If something as simple as a storm could cause Calixta to spark an old flame after she had been married and had a son, what makes her or Alcee believe that everything is ok and they lived happily ever after?
Courtney from Study Moose
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