Kate Chopin’s literary career began to flourish after her husband’s death and her deep intimate thoughts of her social and marital status were revealed in her fictitious works. Her imagination that she had put into her works was perceived to be her own intimate thoughts that she longed to live during her marriage. She had a “pursuit of solitude, independence, and an identity apart from her children—and apart from the men who always admired her.” (Chopin 114) Her beginning literary career quickly prospered yet came to an abrupt ending once her book The Awakening was criticized for its feminist delivery, adultery, immorality, and its attempt to advocate for the repressed women of the 19th century.
Today Kate Chopin’s works do not receive such condemnation and are highly conceived as great literary works. Due to Kate Chopin’s life evolving in the 19th century, when women’s place was thought to be in the home, raising children, and putting all their dedication into their husband’s wishes and lifestyle, her work did not receive the desired attention that only came after her death in 1904. She revealed to the world that “a person lives in a community, but the community also lives in the person.” (Krstovic 11) Nancy Walker states in her book Kate Chopin A Literary Life,
“Fortunately for Kate Chopin, the regional sketches with which she began her publishing career were in great demand in the final decades of the century; on the other hand, late-century Victorian notions of feminine propriety had a devastating effect on the novel [The Awakening] that should have been the capstone of her career.” (Walker 6)
The negative attention that it did receive caused Chopin to end her dreams as a literary writer.
Catherine (Kate) O’Flaherty was born in 1850 to a well accomplished family. Her father passed away in a railroad accident which she depicts in her short story “The Story of an Hour” when Richard “had been in the newspaper office when intelligence of the railroad disaster was received, with Brently Mallard’s name leading the list of “killed.” (Roberts 331) She was left to be raised by her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She progressed intellectually and married young at the age of 20 to Oscar Chopin. She became the typical 19th century high-class wife which required a “demanding social and domestic schedule ... [that] serves as material for The Awakening.” (Witalec 1) She also was mother to five boys and one girl. After her husband’s death in 1882 she took on the family business. She was “intrigued by the … sharecroppers who worked on the plantations… [and] the impression she gathered of these people… were later reflected” in her works Bayou Folk and A Night in Acadie. (Witalec 1)
Since Kate Chopin entwined her on personal life and experiences into her books and short stories, this fueled the controversy of The Awakening. Furthermore, during the 19th century books written by women were perceived to come from the writers own experiences...