The Storm Brief Analysis
“The Storm” became one of Kate Chopin’s highly acclaimed works that were published posthumously. The audacious sexual undertone of the story was frowned upon by the extremely conservative society during Chopin’s lifetime and therefore, it was published in the year 1969. The main premise of the novel revolves around the emotional conflicts of two former lovers, Alcee and Calixta; both individuals are unhappily married, yet devoted to their respective spouses. However, the sexual tension and the memories of the passion they once shared for one another become too overwhelming to ignore and basically sculpts the remaining story. The storm is used in a real and a metaphorical sense, which describes the character’s inner turmoil that intensifies along with the real storm that had them trapped in their house.
It is a sad homage to the suppressed 19th-century female sexuality and her desires are compared to a storm. Sexuality is a fundamental theme of the story that ties the aforementioned six components and weaves the core of the story (Gale, 2009). The central character Calixta is shown as an ordinary wife, who is sewing and doing chores around the house. She feels warm and realizes that there has been a sudden rise in temperature but fails to see the impending storm that now engulfed her house. This was a clear example of suppressed sexual desires and the submissiveness of the women during that time; they are not completely oblivious, but were passively aware of their feelings and actively worked to divert themselves.
Chopin has masterfully described their tumultuous liaison in a concise manner. The substance of this prose will analyze the dynamics of the story across 6 C’s of literary analysis: Character, Contrast, Conflict, Complication, Climax, and Conclusion. These six components of a story are vital in weaving a profound plot that would help make the readers feel involved. Characters are extremely essential in propelling the plot forward and projecting emotions and feelings that are ignited by various stimuli in the story. Characters can either be flat or round; the latter are the protagonists, whose personality undergoes drastic development throughout the course of the novel, whereas the former are minor characters, who remain unchanged.
In Chopin’s short story, the round characters are Alcee and Calixta, whereas Calixta’s husband and son, and Alcee’s wife are the flat characters. Alcee and Calixta were former lovers and somehow with an unusual twist of fate, they are locked up inside Calixta’s house as the storm continues to grow in intensity. The contrast in the story occurs when Calixta has to choose whether to abandon Alcee outside, who is also quite ambivalent about being in her presence. She has to make a tough choice and as the sky darkens she decides to let him inside. Chopin describes, “With a force and clatter that threaten to break an entrance and deluge them there” (Chopin, 1974).
As the storm builds up, it turns out to be more menacing than they had expected it to be and even Alcee decides to enter her house despite his better judgment. The main source of conflict for both characters is their unresolved romantic feelings for each other. The sexual tension mounts between them and the fact that they are now trapped inside the house, their mutual attraction for one another, and emotional dissatisfaction with their respective spouses had overshadowed the fact that their priorities and loyalties had changed. The circumstances kept on adding to their misery and the conflict was further complicated by the memories of their passionate love affair.
It is nearly natural for two ex-lovers to feel awkward in the presence of each other and it is evident through Chopin’s beautiful imagery that shows exactly how awkward they are being in the presence of each other. The sexual tension is the only conflict of the two characters that is intensified as they steal glances and they are gradually reminded of the passion they once shared. These memories serve as the greatest source of complication that continues to deepen the conflict. As they reminisce about their love affair that tells the reader that the character’s patience is wearing thin and they are only inches away from acting out on their desires. However, the final complication that then culminates into the climax of the story is when Calixta is startled by the lightning and staggers into Alcee’s arms.
The climax occurs with the physical contact that spurs them to act out on their attraction for another that they had been suppressing all this while. The storm grumbles, which is used as a metaphor for the moans and groans of the two characters that they let out while in each other’s arms. The storm reaches its peak and so do Calixta and Alcee as both experiences the pinnacle of their desires. The storm abates as Calixta and Alcee break apart from each other and slowly paves the path for the conclusion. Alcee leaves and soon Calixta’s husband and son reach home; her husband expects his wife to be vexed with him, but to his surprise, he arrives home to find his wife as jubilant as ever. He hands her the can of tuna that he had bought for her from the store, where her husband and son were forced to seek shelter from the storm.
On the other hand, Alcee arrives home to write his wife a romantic letter explaining to her that she may take her time to come back which seems to be the after-effects of his sexual encounter with Calixta. Chopin ends the story with the revelation that the storm had passed and everyone was happy. Their spouses were completely oblivious to Alcee and Calixta’s infidelity and both lovers had fulfilled their lecherous desires. The storm basically sheds light on female sexuality that was a tabooed subject in the 19th Century (Krauss, 2009, pp. 1-5). Women had a very restricted role in society and were largely considered to be dutiful subjects to their husbands. A woman’s sexual desires and fulfillment was inconsequential, as a Man was the ultimate figure of authority in a family and society.
In conclusion, analyzing the Storm across the 6 C’s of literature, it can be seen that the story outlines the basic animalistic need from a feminine perspective. This need cannot be voiced due to the stringent rules of propriety, but they were exhibited in their actions. The conclusion is quite open-ended and it is evident from the setting that Chopin is not labeling their behavior as moral or immoral, but she is in fact juxtaposing the innocent, pure image of women that was instilled in everybody’s mind against reality. Chopin tried to create a contrast and shed light on human behavior that is quite dissimilar to the value system and standards created by society. (Long-Kluckner, 2010)
Chopin, Kate. “The Storm and Other Stories”. The University of Michigan. 1974
Bartee, Joanna. “Storm: More than just a story”. Virginia Wesleyan College. Web. 27th November 2012.
Baker, Christopher. “Chopin’s The Storm”. Routledge Taylor and Francis Group. 2010.
Krauss, Kerstin. “Kate Chopin – The Storm of the Storms”. GRIN Verlag. 2009: pp. 1-5
Long-Kluckner, Rebecca. “Chopin’s awakening of female sexuality in the Storm”. Association of young journalists and writers. 2010. Web. 23rd November 2012
Mendenhall, Amy. “Rising feminist storms”. Pearson Education Inc. 2000