Gender in The Storm, by Kate Chopin
Gender in The Storm, by Kate Chopin
Kate Chopin’s “The Storm,” is a story about adultery, focused on a housewife by the name of Calixta, who is expected to undertake household chores as the principal goal of her everyday life. The woman had had a flirtation with Alcee years before the story took place. Chopin informs the reader about the current situation between Calixta and Alcee: “She had not seen him very often since her marriage, and never alone” – certainly for the reason that the woman was not expected to see a man who was not her husband very often, and by herself.
The woman has suppressed emotions and passions for Alcee, who too is married to another. The fact that she has suppressed emotions is revealed by her unspoken permission granted to Alcee to have a sexual encounter with her. She does not resist the encounter. However, being a man, Alcee is the one who begins to touch the woman as a way to start the sexual encounter. The woman responds with “generous abundance of her passion (Chopin).
” At the same time, Calixta’s husband is at the general store where he probably went to fetch viands for the household and has been stopped by the storm. Thus, the story uses gender to inform the reader about perceived gender roles during the time it was written. As mandated by her gender role, it is perfectly normal for Calixta, a housewife, to be engrossed in housework while her husband is out. She is sewing a cotton sheet and involved in other household tasks when the storm arrives. She is airing out her husband, Bobinot’s Sunday clothing on the porch.
Her husband is visiting the general store with their son, Bibi, because he is expected to purchase goods for the household, being the man of the family and the breadwinner who must keep account of the household purchases and buy only that which his family truly needs. If Calixta had gone to the general store instead, perhaps she would have spent indiscriminately and unwisely. Thus, men and women have different roles to play in “The Storm. ” When Alcee arrives at Calixta’s doorstep to seek shelter from the storm, it appears as though the woman had been sleeping through her housework.
Chopin writes: “His voice and her own startled her as if from a trance…. ” What is more, the woman has been so focused on her housework that she begins talking excitedly about her work at first. She also talks about preparing her house for the storm. It is her responsibility, after all, to stay in charge of the entire household while the man of the house is away. Hence, she has to gather up the cotton sheet she had been sewing before the arrival of Alcee. With no housework left between the man and the woman, they are prepared to play their gender roles in a sexual encounter.
When Alcee grabs the woman close to himself, Chopin describes Calixta’s first reaction thus: “Bonte! She cried, releasing herself from his arms encircling arms and retreating to the window… If I only knew were Bibi was! ” After remembering for a brief moment her marital role that demands her to stay faithful to her husband in her sex life, through which she gave birth to Bibi, Calixta easily submits to Alcee’s sexual move. As a man, Alcee was required to make the first sexual move. As a woman, Calixta had to submit because she desired the man.
Furthermore, as a woman she was required by the perception of her gender to try modesty at first by resisting the sexual move. Once she has stopped resisting a sexual encounter with Alcee, Calixta gives in to the experience by thoroughly enjoying her sexual role just as Alcee takes great pleasure in his. After the sexual encounter and the storm, Alcee leaves Calixta’s house, and both appear happy as they smile through their respective gender roles, which apparently have been played rather well and would continue to do so.
When Calixta’s husband returns home, she pretends as though nothing extraordinary has happened. Things get back to normal. Calixta never thinks about relating the experience to her husband. As a woman, she cannot dream of discussing the experience with her husband. Alcee, on the other hand, returns to his own house to write a letter to his wife stating that he is enjoying himself very much, and she too must enjoy her vacation. As a husband, Alcee is required to keep in touch with his wife, informing her about his state so as to touch base.
Like Calixta, Alcee also does not mention to his spouse that he had had a sexual encounter with another. Rather, both the man and the woman are required to stay faithful to their spouses. Gender roles are fixed, and so both Calixta and Alcee are expected to continue playing their gender roles in their marriages as well as in society after their adulterous encounter. Neither is expected to share with society any information about the adulterous encounter, because society does not tolerate the breaking of marital norms.
Moreover, Calixta is expected to continue being engrossed in her household chores, and sleeping through them when she must. Bobinot and Alcee, on the other hand, are expected to continuing fending for their families, and going to general stores to purchase household goods. When Bibi grows up, he too is expected to behave like Bobinot and Alcee – the breadwinners of their families. Thus, gender roles would not depart from society during the time of “The Storm. ”
Works Cited Chopin, Kate. “The Storm. ” 1898. 20 Oct. 2007. <http://classiclit. about. com/library/bl- etexts/kchopin/bl-kchop-thestorm. htm>.
Subject: Kate Chopin,
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 16 December 2016
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