Kate Chopin (1850-1904) is a recognized classic writer of the American literature of the 19th century. She is considered as one of the foremothers of feminism. In fact, she attracted the attention of literary scholars relatively recently, about twenty years ago. Such belated interest can be explained by the creative destiny of the writer and her literary heritage. The reason for the long oblivion of one of the most talented American writers of the 19th century, obviously, is connected with the scandal, caused by the publication of her novel “The Awakening” (1899). Kate Chopin was accused of the immorality because the traditional values were being questioned in this novel and the publishers were frightened by the avalanche of indignant letters from readers, refusing to further cooperate with this publishing house.
The narrative in the “Storm” short story by Kate Chopin is going from the third person, which presents a key point of the story. The role of the narrator is not only a simple exposition of the story to readers. In this case, the narrator gives a clear description of the events. The principal feature that distinguished Kate Chopin’s prose of many contemporary books of American writers is the more explicit description of sexual emotions. If in the first collection such feelings were peculiar only to representatives of the lower classes, then in “Nights in Acadia”, the sexuality was also inherent to women who belonged to the high society. In the short stories of the last collection, as in the “Storm” story, which has not been included in any of the collections, the author asserts an unregulated nature of both sexual and sensitive features of a woman. In the “Storm” short story, the husband, Bobinôt, and his son, Bibi, was caught by the bad weather in the shop somewhere in Louisiana. Meanwhile, Alcée, the ex-boyfriend of Bobinot’s wife was passing by their home and had to find a shelter because of this storm. They talk with this woman, Calixta. They remembered the good time when they were together and suddenly they start to make love. Alcée leaves the house until the husband with the boy come back home. Alcée returns home and writes a letter to his wife, who is on the trip, that he doesn’t mind if she stays out of home much longer. His wife is happy because she has found somebody for love there. Bobinôt and Bibi return home and Calixta welcomes her family with open arms. Everybody is satisfied and happy.
Chopin brings “the free love” beyond the limits of the society. She refuses to admit such assessments as a sin or a fall. This perception of the physical side of love is rooted in the writer’s deep philosophy of considering the physical aspect of a human as a pledge of woman emancipation and her acquisition of the life fullness. The elimination of cultural stereotypes in the writer’s prose is made not only due to the original interpretation of the woman’s theme but also due to certain writing techniques, such as parodying literary patterns and changes in the plot. The combination of two variants of the character’s fate within one text, in a certain sense, anticipates the aesthetic experiments of postmodernism.
In her literary experiments, Kate Chopin reflects about the woman’s fate when she tries to find herself in this world and rethinks the common values. This problem is a unique ideological and thematic dotted line through the entire work of the writer. In Chopin’s books, the life of an American woman of the nineteenth century is presented in her various forms: a girl who has been extradited, a young wife who met the belated love, an old maiden, an asshole craving sexual pleasures, a wife who does not love her husband, a woman who dedicated her life to creativity, a nun. The heroines of Kate Chopin, despite their differences, are united by more or less distinct awareness of their own desires and needs. In her books, Chopin does not aim to substantiate the equality of rights between women and men and she does not seek to present the man as the main culprits for all misfortunes of the woman, so it would hardly be true to classify them as conscious adherents to the feminist idea. The author rather faithfully depicts obsolete social institutions that prevent a woman to find herself and to obtain her spiritual independence. There is no doubt that the artistic phenomenon of Chopin, despite the abundance of articles and books about her, is still far from complete understanding of her creation.