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Kate Chopin’s “The Storm” is a story in the late nineteenth century mainly highlighting the theme of adultery. The story begins with a thunderstorm, a perfect setting for the passion that takes place in Calixta’s house. There is mention of Friedheimer's store where Bobinot and Bibi, Calixta’s husband and son have gone to purchase some shrimps for Calixta but are unable to deliver it to her due to the raging storm. They have to wait for the storm to pass at the local store. The violent storm also forces Calixta and Alcee into her house culminating into the passion that ends simultaneously with the storm. Chopin therefore employs the setting as the facilitator of the passionate event hence the main theme in the story. The setting indeed serves as the main agent that highlights the themes in the story as well as the traits of the characters.
The setting is perfect for rekindling the old passion between Calixta and Alcee, her former lover who she had not seen for a long time. The two meet by the chance since the storm begins as Alcee rides by and Calixta goes out of her house to look for Bib’s coat. The storm inevitably forces Alcee to seek refuge in her house. They go into the house and shut the door behind them- they are alone in the house! The rains obscured the view of far-off cabins like a wall separating the house from other civilization and provided the opportunity for the two old lovers give in to their passionate desires. Moreover, the door to the bedroom is open revealing the large white bed. (Chopin et al 653-658).
The mixed up character of Calixta is presented by the raging storm. The storm symbolizes her mixed up feelings towards Alcee. Calixta looks out and sees that it is raining fiercely with strong winds, lightning and cracking thunder. Her feelings towards Alcee are tense like the storm at this juncture. She goes to the window to pretend that she does not feel anything to avoid the inevitable (Duke et al168-171). On the contrary, Alcee is seen to be an opportunistic person since he capitalizes on the situation by advancing towards her. He moves to the window and grabs her close to him. Calixta manages to disengage herself from him but on his prodding she obliges and they make love. There is an emotional downpour inside the room parallel to the physical downpour outside. From the raging storm outside, the setting moves to the calm atmosphere in Calixta’s house. Another storm vividly brews as Alcee moves towards Calixta who is overwhelmed by his presence. The two inevitably engage in adultery owing to the tension-or storm building inside the room as well as the fire of passion building inside the two lovers culminating with the end of the storm (Thrailkill 203-204).
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The setting in the story functions to explain the difference between love and passion as well as to justify the latter as equally worthy course. The storm shows that there is a large emotional divide between passion and love. Passion is depicted as an intense and burning emotion-as witnessed in the wild passion between Calixta and Alcee while love is calm and kind, as seen from the act where Bobinot and Bibi go to the store and calmly wait for the storm to pass. Passion is a mysterious force that drives people to escape the reality to fulfill their fantasies and lust thereby abdicating their duty to love and faithfulness. The reader is left to assume that the two lovers were experiencing problems in their marriage forcing them to seek comfort elsewhere thereby making their adulterous encounter justified.
The storm setting drives the plot and makes the story powerful and without it there would be no passionate encounter between Alcee and Calixta. In addition, the storm builds quickly and passes quickly as did Alcee, stopped by chance at Calixta’s house, got intimate quickly and left after as soon as he was done and with the passing of the rain. The storm is portrayal is in deed a reinforcement of the plot and the main themes by descriptive imagery which coincide with the emotions of the main characters throughout the story (Chopin et al 653-658).
The descriptive imagery in the story is significant in drawing and holding the attention of the reader to the setting and the plot development. The story seemingly ends with the passing of the storm and everyone feeling happy since the affair remains a secret.
Another setting occurs that seems to justify the adulterous act occurs when Alcee writes a letter to his wife Clarisse in his house encouraging her to stay as long as she likes in Biloxi. He comments that their well being is far much important than the anxiety they feel from separation. Clarisse feels free since she is having a break from intimacy with her husband but is faithful to him ignorant of the waywardness of her husband who betrays her trust by having an affair with Calixta behind her back. At the other side Calixta welcomes her husband and receives the shrimps. She comments that they will have a feast that night.
The story has been set in a way that it ends as quickly as it starts just like a storm. It is meant to provoke the mind to ponder over moral and ethical views of marriage, relationships and sexuality that are trivialized and represented in a liberal manner in the story. It is proper to acknowledge that this encounter is outright adultery despite the justifications forwarded since the two participants are both married but chose to engage in extramarital affairs. Adultery is depicted by Chopin as an inevitable event that is naturally facilitated by the prevailing circumstances and is therefore not necessarily a bad thing (Chopin et al 653-658).There is a misplaced notion that the affair was necessary to fill a gap in their marriages. Chopin generally concludes that an escape from a relationship is worthy at times when the situation calls for it (Duke et al 168-171).
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