Kate Chopin’s “The Storm” is a complex piece of fiction. Examining the elements of Chopin’s classic short story will enlighten the reader of the author’ intended meaning.
This story has a conventional plot that allows the conflict to unfold organically. The story starts with an unstable situation. The characters in the story notice that a storm is coming to town. The narrator exposits that Bobinot and Bibi are separate from Calixta when the storm hits. Because of the storm, Alcee needs to take shelter with his horse and goes to Calixta’s house. The plot elevates as Calixta’s worrying about her family leads Alcee to console her. The narrator then reveals that Calixta and Alcee were almost lovers. The plot reaches its climax as the duo, inflamed by their desire for one another, make love during the storm. As the storm ends, so too does the conflict. The characters once again reach a stable situation and proceed with their lives as if the storm never happened.
The main source of conflicts is Person vs. Nature. The main characters all struggle with the storm and its effects. Bobinot and Bibi deal with being stranded at Friedheimer’s and with their clothes becoming dirty from the mud created by the storm. For Calixta and Alcee, their external conflict with Mother Nature becomes an internal conflict with their Human Nature. Calixta and Alcee must each wrestle with the fact that they are married to other people but have a deep desire for each other. When Alcee makes his initial move to physically comfort her, Calixta resists and discusses her worry for her husband and son. Calixta is dealing with her emotions and the potential ramifications of acting on her desires for Alcee. The conflict between the character and their natural states of being allows for the plot to progress naturally.
Kate Chopin follows five characters throughout “The Storm”. The bulk of Bobinot’s personality is told indirectly. Instead of the narrator telling us that Bobinot is a good husband and father, the narrator shows us through Bobinot’s actions. For example, Bobinot purchases some shrimp during the storm because he knows that Calixta likes shrimp. Despite indirectly characterizing Bobinot, he is a flat and static character. The only trait that Bobinot has is that he is a considerate man and does not interact with anything that would catalyze a change within his character. Bibi, Bobinot’ son, is solely and directly characterized as wise; Bibi does not encounter any catalyzing conflict in the story. Calixta is a round and dynamic character. Throughout the story, she exhibits multiple emotions and experiences changes due to her conflict with herself and with Alcee. Alcee is a flat yet dynamic character. Although Alcee is only portrayed as a man inflamed by desire, he shows character growth by writing a happy letter to his wife despite having an affair behind her back. Clarisse, Alcee’s wife, is flat and static because she is only discussed in the story to provide Alcee with more context.
“The Storm” is told with an omniscient point of view. The narrator tells the story from the perspectives of Bobinot, Calixta, Alcee, and Clarisse. The narrator tells the actions of those characters as well as gives the reader insight into those characters’ inner thoughts. The narrator takes a neutral tone throughout the story. The narrator’s choice of words is true to the feelings of the characters. The narrator’s words do not provide a stance or opinion on whether the affair that occurs is moral sound or ethically justified in any way. This gives the reader the opportunity to develop his/her own feelings about the events that transpire.
This story takes place in Louisiana. The way the characters talk as well the mention of levees and Assumption support that this story takes place in Louisiana. Motor vehicles or air conditioning are not mentioned, and Alcee rides a horse. This indicates that “The Storm” may possibly take place in the mid to late 1800s. Societal standards were higher during those days. Sexual relations outside of marriage were extremely taboo. The setting provides context that the actions of Calixta and Alcee would normally be something to be ashamed of. Knowledge of the setting informs the reader of the situational irony within the story. Calixta and Alcee should be ashamed of having a marital affair in the middle of the storm, but neither seems to show any guilt, shame or fear. It is also ironic that Bobinot, Bibi, and Clarisse are unaware of the love making that took place during the storm while the reader is.
The theme of “The Storm” is love. All the characters have a level of love for their counterparts. Calixta and Alcee have a physical love or infatuation with each other. Bobinot and Clarisse have marital love for their wives. Bibi has a familial love for his parents. Through the ay events transpire in the story, the author questions if or why these levels of love always influence each other. The story does not show any consequences for Calixta and Alcee, but their love for their families does not seem to be changed by their actions. I enjoyed reading this story and considering the multiplicity of love.