Though Kate Chopin is usually considered to be a writer of American realism and naturalism, the story is difficult to classify, in part because it is extremely short. The story leaves the moral conclusion up to the reader, suggesting it is naturalistic, but the fairytale-like elements of the love story are inconsistent with either naturalism or realism. The atmosphere of the story and the characterization of Armand create gothic undertones.
Though brief, the story raises important issues that plagued Chopin's South, particularly the pervasive and destructive, yet ambiguous nature of racism, especially given the numerous people of color in the society. The story also questions the potential fulfillment of woman's identity—a subject that fascinated the unconventional Chopin. In her portrayal of Désirée, a woman whose self-worth and self-exploration is intrinsically linked to that of her husband, Chopin opened the door to her lifelong query into a woman's struggle for a place where she could fully belong. This story focuses on themes of hypocrisy and gender equality.
The story also seems to be a transposition of De Maupassant's "The Story of A Farm Girl".