Analyzing The Storm.

Analyzing “The Storm.”The setting in this story creates the perfect environment for an
adulterous affair. In Kate Chopin’s “The Storm”, Chopin not only
creates the perfect setting but also uses the setting as a symbol of the
affair. Most likely occurring in the late 1800’s and taking place in
the deep South, the story gives an account of an adulterous affair
between Calixta, wife to Bobinot and mother to four year old Bibi, and
Alcee, husband to Clarisse, during a terrible rain storm. The presence
of the storm is not merely coincidental. It is the driving force behind
the story and the affair. As the storm begins, climaxes and ends so
does the affair and the story.

From the opening we see that Chopin intends to use the storm to move the
story forward. The story begins with Bobinot and Bibi inside the local
store. As they attempt to leave they notice storm clouds approaching the
town. Deciding to wait out the storm, they remain inside. Meanwhile,
Calixta is at home sewing and unaware of the storm. Soon realizing the
storm is approaching, she begins frantically running about the house
closing windows and doors and retrieving clothes left on the porch.

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Seeking shelter from the rain, Alcee approaches as Calixta steps on to
her front porch. Chopin writes, “As she stepped outside, Alcee
Laballiere rode in at the gate” (96). By providing a terrible storm
Chopin creates an ingenious setting for this chance meeting. Chopin’s
intentions become even more apparent immediately after Alcee’s
introduction. To propel the story forward Chopin uses the storm to
force Alcee inside Calixta’s home. The story reads: “He expressed an
intention to remain outside, but it was soon apparent that he might as
well have been out in the open: the water beat in upon the boards in
driving sheets, and he went inside, closing the door after him” (Chopin
96). Author and critic Barbara Ewell wrote, “Chopin adroitly matches
the storm’s irresistible development with the effects of passion on the
two . . . lovers” (171). It is clear at this point that Chopin wants to
bring these two together and is using the stormy setting to accomplish
this goal. After all, the meeting between Calixta and Alcee is
certainly less valid if the storm isn’t present to bring it about.

As it climaxes the storm continues to move the story but also begins to
symbolize the affair between Calixta and Alcee. Concerned about Bobinot
and Bibi, Calixta peers out of her window to investigate just as a bolt
of lightning strikes a nearby tree. Chopin again uses the storm to
direct the action. Frightened by the bolt, “Calixta put her hands to
her eyes, and with a cry, staggered backward” and “Alcee’s arms
encircled her.” (Chopin 97). Chopin takes advantage of the storm and
uses it to literally push Calixta into Alcee’s arms. The affair reaches
its climax shortly after their first embrace. As they finally give way
to their passion for one another, Chopin changes how she uses the
storm. While still using it to provoke and lead the story she also uses
the storm to symbolize and confirm the romance. One critic noted that
“The course of their passion parallels that of the storm . . . ” (Skaggs
61). As the storm reaches it’s climax Chopin refers to the lovers:
“They did not heed the crashing torrents and the roar of the elements
made her laugh as she lay in his arms” (97). By describing the storm
during the climax between Calixta and Alcee, Chopin is implying that
their passion equals the intensity of the storm. The storm continues to
lead them but also symbolizes the passion they share.

The storm begins to pass as the story nears its end, taking with it
Alcee and the affair. The story resumes with Calixta and Alcee enjoying
their last few moments together. Chopin continues her effort to allow
the storm to dictate the sequence of events. To convey the status of
the affair she again refers to the storm. By stating, “The rain was
over” Chopin ends the sexual affair between Calixta and Alcee (Chopin
98). This is also another example of Chopin using the storm to symbolize
the affair between the main characters. As the storm ends and Alcee
leaves, we see the return of Bobinot and Bibi. Calixta, more than
grateful to see the two, greets them well and they all sit down to
supper. Alcee writes his wife, Clarrise, who is vacationing and
lovingly tells her that he is doing well and to not hurry back.

Clarrise returns his letter explaining that she is pleased to hear this
and that she will indeed stay longer. It is the last sentence in the
story that makes the final comparison to the storm. “So the storm
passed and everyone was happy” (Chopin 99). In one sentence Chopin ends
the storm, the affair, and the story. This seems to confirm that Chopin
intended to align the sequence of events with the development of the
storm. It is also an excellent example of the symbolism used in the
story. The denotation of the last sentence is that the characters are
happy at the passage of the storm. However, the connotation for Calixta
and Alcee is much deeper, implying that their happiness is derived from
the passion they shared during the storm.

And so the story ends with everyone happy and satisfied. The storm is
an effective setting and a more than adequate symbol. From bringing the
lovers together, to describing their sexual climax and then quietly and
stylishly ending the affair. It is the description of the storm that
creates the foundation and intensity of the interlude between Calixta
and Alcee. Carrying it from beginning, climax and end, the storm is
what makes it all possible.Words
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