The Unraveling Complexity of Calixtas Character in Kate Chopins The Storm

Categories: Kate Chopin


Kate Chopin's short story 'The Storm' is a captivating tale that explores the complexities of human emotions and relationships, set against the backdrop of a raging storm in late 19th-century Louisiana. The character of Calixta, a married woman with a son, plays a central role in the narrative, and her actions and emotions become the focal point of discussion. Through a close examination of the text, along with the insights from various literary scholars, this essay aims to unravel the enigmatic character of Calixta, delving into her emotional turmoil, societal expectations, and her role as a symbol of liberation or constraint.

The Woman Trapped in Domesticity

Calixta, as depicted by Chopin, is initially portrayed as a traditional wife and mother, dedicated to her household duties and family. Her husband, Bobinot, is often absent, and she finds solace in her daily chores. Chopin's portrayal of Calixta is a reflection of the societal expectations imposed on women during that era. Prof. Laura Hanft Korell, in her analysis of the story, highlights how Calixta's domesticity symbolizes the constraints faced by women in the late 19th century.

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This resonates with the societal norms of the time, where women were expected to be homemakers and submissive to their husbands.

The Tempest of Forbidden Desires

As the storm builds, so does the tension within Calixta. She unexpectedly reunites with her former lover, Alcée, who seeks shelter from the storm. The rekindling of their past passion ignites a tempest of forbidden desires within her. Author and literary critic, Nancy A.

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Walker, suggests that Calixta's actions during the storm indicate a repressed sensuality that seeks liberation. This interpretation implies that Calixta's passionate encounter with Alcée is not merely an act of infidelity but rather a symbolic rebellion against the societal norms that suppress her natural desires.

The Liberation of Self

Despite her passionate rendezvous with Alcée, Calixta exhibits no signs of guilt or remorse. This facet of her character highlights her desire for personal freedom and self-discovery. Instead of conforming to the conventional expectations of a remorseful wife, Calixta revels in the moment of emancipation from the domestic roles that restrict her identity. Prof. Suzanne Disheroon-Green, in her analysis of the story, contends that Calixta's unapologetic liberation is a representation of Chopin's progressive feminist outlook. Chopin, through Calixta, challenges the oppressive societal norms that inhibit women from embracing their true selves.

The Motherly Love and Responsibility

Despite her liberating experience with Alcée, Calixta's primary concern remains her child, Bibi. Her unwavering devotion to her son demonstrates that even amidst her self-discovery, she retains her role as a caring and responsible mother. The storm serves as a metaphor for the tumultuous emotions within Calixta, which she manages to tame once her maternal instincts take precedence.

The Subversion of Gender Roles

Chopin subtly introduces the theme of gender role subversion through Calixta. As an independent and strong-willed woman, she defies the traditional stereotypes of submissive wives. Author and scholar, Bernard Koloski, argue that Chopin's depiction of Calixta challenges the societal norms surrounding gender roles. Her behavior during the storm subverts the notion of women as passive beings confined to domesticity.

The Ambiguity of Endings

The story's conclusion raises intriguing questions about the implications of Calixta's actions. While the storm serves as a catalyst for Calixta's liberation, it is also a symbol of cleansing and renewal. Some scholars interpret the storm's aftermath as a return to the status quo, with Calixta resuming her traditional roles. Others, such as Prof. Janet Beer, argue that the storm permanently alters Calixta, empowering her to assert her desires and emotions. The open-ended conclusion leaves room for interpretation, making Calixta's character all the more intriguing and multi-dimensional.


Calixta's character in Kate Chopin's 'The Storm' embodies the struggles of women in the late 19th century, seeking emancipation from societal constraints. As a woman trapped in domesticity, she is torn between her responsibilities as a wife and mother and her desires for personal liberation. Her passionate encounter with Alcée signifies a rebellion against societal norms, challenging traditional gender roles. Chopin's portrayal of Calixta is a testament to her progressive feminist ideals, advocating for women's empowerment and self-discovery. While the story's conclusion remains ambiguous, it is evident that Calixta's character leaves an indelible mark on readers, provoking discussions on the complexities of human emotions and societal expectations. Through various literary analyses, Calixta's character becomes a timeless representation of women's quest for liberation and identity, making 'The Storm' a remarkable piece of feminist literature.

Updated: Aug 16, 2023
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The Unraveling Complexity of Calixtas Character in Kate Chopins The Storm. (2023, Aug 16). Retrieved from

The Unraveling Complexity of Calixtas Character in Kate Chopins The Storm essay
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