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Desire And Female Sexuality In The Storm By Kate Chopin

1100 words - 5 pages

In Kate Chopin’s time, women and their sexuality and sexual passion was deemed a negligible, even improper, aspect of women’s lives. Yet Chopin boldly addresses a woman’s sexual desire in her short story “The Storm”. This story puts into great detail a torrid extramarital sexual encounter between Calixta and Alcee in the midst of a raging storm. While “The Storm” could have been presented in a traditional light, perhaps as a lesson of the evils of uninhibited female sexuality, Chopin maintains a non- judgmental stance by refraining from moralizing about the sanctity of marriage or impropriety of Calixta’s actions. In failing to condemn, and even condoning Calixta’s behavior, as well as ...view middle of the document...

The conceit of the storm continues throughout much of the story, with the storm’s crescendo symbolizing a climax in Calixta and Alcee’s sexual encounter. At first, the apparent desire between the pair is channeled into a nervous tension, and the effort to restrain their physical longing for the sake of social mores is prominent. Calixta exclaims “If this keeps up, Dieu sait if the levees goin’ to stan it!”(Chopin, 1898,pg.2), which is symbolically indicative of the growing for of their passion and the weakening of their resistance. A blinding bolt of lightning breaks the lovers’ nervous tension, much as it splits through the air and strikes the chinaberry tree. The violent crash precipitates Calixta and Alcee’s first embrace and kiss, and the affair that ensues vividly matches the progress of the raging storm. The storm reaches a crescendo, which Calixta views as a delightful counterpart to their passionate love-making, for, “”they did not heed the crashing torrents, and the roar of the elements made her laugh as she lay in his arms.”(Chopin, 1898,pg 3) To make a parallel between the storm and Alcee and Calixta’s affair particularly evident, Chopin consistently uses this conceit until the end of the encounter for the thunder fades away during their drowsy reverie following the climax, and the sun begins to shine as Alcee departs. Chopin’s extended metaphor doesn’t serve merely to express this passionate sexual experience in euphemistic terms that might appeal more to an audience of the time; rather this conceit reinforces in a lyrical and artful manner the intensity of Calixta and Alcee’s love- making. Interspersed in this somewhat coded description of the encounter are quite explicit details about Calixta’s body and her sexual experience. Chopin writes for instance “Now—well, now—her lips seemed in a manner free to be tasted as well as her round, white throat and her whiter breasts.”(Chopin, 1898, pg. 3) The candidness of Chopin’s language is revolutionary in its’ own right, for in her time sex was considered outside of the woman’s sphere of knowledge or concern. Chopin’s words paint a sensual and even titillating scene and this shocking honesty is a remarkable statement. In being...

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