What is the meaning of Kate Chopin's "The Storm"?


Quick Answer

At its center, Kate Chopin's "The Storm" is about an extramarital affair between the main character, Calixta, and Alcée, who is also married. The story is meant as a commentary on the natural force of sexuality.

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Full Answer

The story is set in 19th-century Louisiana. According to the Kate Chopin website, Chopin uses the storm to move the story forward. The storm traps Calixta's husband and son at a local store. Alcée arrives, seeking shelter from the storm. As Calixta and Alcée give in to their desires and have a sexual encounter, the storm mimics their passion in its intensity. When the storm ends, so, too, does their tryst.

According to Chopin biographer Per Seyersted, the author meant to show that sex is a strong, natural force like the Louisiana storm. The conclusion of the story is ambiguous, ending with the conclusion of the storm, the exit of Alcée and the return of Calixta's husband and son. As such, while the moment itself is painted in detail, future ramifications of the moment are not discussed in the story. Seyersted concludes that Chopin was exploring the theme of life following a natural course that included the "healthy" expression of Calixta's sexuality either inside or outside of her marriage.

Chopin wrote "The Storm" only one year after her novel "The Awakening." Yet the short story remained unpublished until after Chopin's death. The phrasing in the story was considered sexually explicit for the time period of the 1890s.

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