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Kate Chopin’s Discrimination On Sex And Race

1752 words (7 pages) Essay in English Literature

21/04/17 English Literature Reference this

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Kate Chopin has always been known for her exploration into matters of human identity and sexuality. Using the elements of themes in her story “The Storm” and “Desiree’s Baby”, she focus on metaphor, setting, imagery, and foreshadowing, and explores and represents issues of human sexuality that has two very different outcomes. Still both stories deliver the gender discrimination in her society.

In the short story “The Storm” by Kate Chopin, the two main characters, Calixta and Alcee, have a flirtation several years before the story takes place, but they both made a more suitable marriage to someone else, and they have not seen each other since. In the present when the action takes place they are reliving that time when their passion is at its climax. Chopin uses the setting of the storm as a metaphor of the storm that Calixta will experience when Alcee appears on her door step. We are told that “sombre clouds that were rolling with sinister intention from the west” (Chopin 405). This image indicates that something unexpected is about to occur. In addition, just as their sexual escapade is over, we read that “the growl of the thunder was distant and passing away” (Chopin 407). This makes clear that the occurrence of the storm in this family was due to the unsatisfied marriage.

Similarly, Literary Analysis on “Desiree’s Baby”, Kate Chopin is a daring author and write stories about subjects that are too risky for the people of her lifetime. In this particular story Chopin tells how Desiree’s Baby is interracial even though Desiree and Armand are under the impression they are both of Caucasian descent. Throughout the story Chopin’s tone remains grave and unpleasant. Chopin foreshadows the upcoming events and problems that will arise between Armand and Desiree. In Kate Chopin’s short story “Desiree’s Baby”, Armand’s pride and ignorance completely destroys his relationship between Desiree and their baby, as it is said “Yes, I want you to go”(Chopin 106). This was the consequence of an unhappy family that the Armand brings race discrimination in his own family.

Joanna Bartee states:

Chopin begins using the illustration of the storm with Calixta’s husband Bobinot. Bobinot decides to wait out a storm at the general store with their son, Bibi. This waiting out or avoidance of the storm suggests that Bobinot also avoids the stormy passions that his wife is clearly capable of. After this, the reader is introduced to Calixta at their home, sewing and doing other household chores, “unaware that the storm is coming” (Wilson 2). This suggests to Wilson that “her sexuality is repressed by the constraints of her marriage and society’s view of women, represented in this passage by the housework” (2). Airing out on the porch are her husband’s Sunday clothes, which Wilson says “allude to society in the form of the church” (2). The story continues with other illustrations using the storm until, finally, after Alcee and Calixta’s sexual encounter, the storm finally begins to pass and everything in the world seems renewed and fresh. (para 3)

It tells that there should be equality between men and women in the context of sexual pleasure. As we know at the end of the story both family from the Alcee and Calixta are safe and happy. Therefore, such storm in society can be tackled only with having equal understanding by both men and women.

We can see both stories have issues with the marriage. In “Desiree’s Baby”, after she gets marriage, she acquire a new identity, but she is unable to hold on to it for long. When the baby and Armand begins to show African characteristics, Armand assumes that Désirée, the child of unidentified parents, has spoiled his bloodline with that of African ancestors. His cruel spurn of her makes it clear that there is no longer any place for baby and Désirée in his life (Rena Korb).

Kate Chopin’s brief story, “The Storm” still has a capacity to surprise. Calixta, a young wife, five years married, is alone sewing in her isolated rural Louisiana home when a violent storm comes up. Her husband Bobinot and four-year-old son Bibi are waiting out the storm at a store. Riding up to her house to ask for protection from the coming storm under her gallery is Alcee, the man to whom she was deeply attracted before her marriage and with whom she had once shared some passionate kisses. Now he too is married, and they have seen each other only infrequently and never alone since their marriages. Their lovemaking concluded as the storm passes, the lover leaves before the young woman’s husband and son come home to find her supremely cheerful, and the little family sit down happily to a nice dinner. Chopin’s final line, isolated in a paragraph of its own for more potent rhetorical effect, is “So the storm passed and every one was happy.”( Allen Stein).

The themes of race and racism are integral to ”Désirée’s Baby,” for prevailing ideas of Chopin’s time that African Americans were inferior to whites leads to the destruction of Désirée and her baby. Armand is confident in the superiority of his lineage and his race.When the child begins to show evidence of being of mixed ancestry, Armand believes it must be Désirée’s unknown ancestors who have tainted his family and brought different slavery in his home and his name.” He rejects both his wife and child, because they are ”not white.” Yet, the irrationality of such racism is demonstrated at the end of the story when Armand discovers that it is he who is of mixed ancestry, not Désirée. Such a reversal clearly shows that ideas of race, and the racism stemming from such ideas, are created by humans alone.

As an above paragraph describes how a happy family is converted to ash. So racisim is one of the outcomes of the story. For that reason one should keep in note that we should not misjudge anybody in terms of race. According to Makasa Kasonde , images of African Americans dominate every aspect of life not only in the United States but increasingly in the entire world. Think of the stature of the Rev “Martin Luther King”, 1964 Nobel Peace Laureate, American national hero with the full respect of a federal public holiday and a federal monument comprising a mausoleum, library, and a chapel where a burning fire never dies. Do not forget Mohammed Ali, George Foreman, and Mike Tyson if you like boxing as many Americans do. In American football, big names include O. J. Simpson, the father of the two lovely children who lost their mother, Nichole in tragic circumstances. In basketball, one of the greatest heroes is Michael Jordan. If you cannot resist popular music, then you should recognize Michael Jackson. Tiger Woods dominates world golf. The two Williams sisters are omnipresent in international lawn tennis. African Americans, however, are not just limited to the arts and sports arena. As shown by the example of the current Secretary of State Colin Po well, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, equality is an important American ideal. (Makasa Kasonde ). All and all Kate Chopin’s view is to have stop for the racism in the entire world.

The relation of a mother to her children is far more important than the gratification of a passion in sex and love is big support to the motherhood female as one critic of The Awakening describes as “The next morning Edna returns to Grand Isle and walks to her death in the sea. Is her suicide triggered by Adèle’s suffering in childbirth? By the knowledge that it is futile to rebel against biology? Does she kill herself because Robert has left her? Or because she has failed to become an artist? Edna drowns herself because she cannot live as a conventional wife or mother any longer, and society will not accept her newfound self. The solitude she enjoys makes for artistic growth, but she is bound to children, home, social duty. She will not sacrifice her new autonomy because, as Anne Jones points out [in Tomorrow Is Another Day: The Woman Writer in the South, 1859-1936, Louisiana State University Press, 1981], “she will not relinquish the core of her vision, which is not finally romance, but rather her own autonomous being … so she freely goes to the sea, losing her life. But she does not lose her self.” (Carole Stone).

To put it briefly, both stories dealt with marriage and gave an alternative perspective on the topic. Characters were faced with decisions about following society or choosing their own way. Chopin explored unique problems and was not afraid to propose that women want something that they are not normally allowed to have, such as independence. Moreover, women should start making their own decisions and stand up for themselves. At the same time, she also describes about the race discrimination and gender discrimination with the help of those stories.

Work Cited

Chopin, Kate. “The Storm.”Reading literature and Writing Argument.3rd Edition.Missy james and Alan P. Merickel. Pearson prentice Hall. Upper Saddie River,NJ.2008. 405-408

Chopin, Kate. “Desiree’s Baby.”Reading literature and Writing Argument.3rd Edition.Missy james and Alan P. Merickel. Pearson prentice Hall. Upper Saddie River,NJ.2008. 103-106

Korb, Rena. “Critical Essay on ‘Désirée’s Baby’.” Short Stories for Students. Ed. Jennifer Smith. Vol. 13. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001. Literature Resource Center. Web. 29 Apr. 2010.

Kasonde, Makasa. “AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDIES: AN AFRICAN SCHOLAR’S VIEW.” Contemporary Review 278.1624 (2001): 272. Literature Resource Center. Web. 29 Apr. 2010.

Stein, Allen. “The Kaleidoscope of Truth: A New Look at Chopin’s ‘The Storm.’.” American Literary Realism, 1870-1910 36.1 (Fall 2003): 51-64. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Vol. 110. Detroit: Gale, 2008. Literature Resource Center. Web. 29 Apr. 2010.

Stone, Carole. “The Female Artist in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening: Birth and Creativity.” Women’s Studies 13.1 & 2 (1986): 23-31. Rpt. in Novels for Students. Ed. Diane Telgen and Kevin Hile. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Literature Resource Center. Web. 29 Apr. 2010.

Wai-chee Dimock. “Katherine Chopin.” Modern American Women Writers. Ed. Elaine Showalter, Lea Baechler, and A. Walton Litz. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1991. Literature Resource Center. Web. 6 May 2010.

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