The Storm

The Storm Study Guide

Despite the fact that Kate Chopin’s “The Storm” is one of the author's more anthologized works, not many readers are aware that this is actually a sequel to a previous story writtin in 1892 called "At the 'Cadian Ball." The central characters Alcée and Calixta appear in both stories, as do their respective spouses, Bobinôt and Clarisse. "At the ‘Cadian Ball" chronicles the events of a debutante's ball where Calixta is the belle of the ball and favors Alcée. But Alcée is a wealthy Creole while Calixta is a lower-class Arcadian, and the two end up unenthusiastically settling for partners of their own respective social classes. Those partners end up as Calixta's and Alcée's spouses in "The Storm."

Chopin originally penned "The Storm" while living in St. Louis in 1898. Much like its prequel, it describes daily life in detail and provides plenty of local color from Louisiana, where Chopin had spent her formative years. But unlike its prequel, "The Storm" isn't quite as concerned with the drama of class dynamics as it is with the drama of forbidden romance and female sensuality.

The story remained unpublished until 1969, when the Norwegian Per Eynert Seyersted published an anthology of Kate Chopin's short stories alongside a lauded biography that is credited with rediscovering Chopin, raising her profile in the American literary canon. While Chopin did see "At the 'Cadian Ball" published in her lifetime, she did not attempt to get "The Storm" published, likely knowing that prudish publishers and morally righteous critics would skewer a sexually explicit story centering the female erotic experience.

This, indeed, would make sense, given the fact that such backlash was invited by her 1899 novel The Awakening, which did not center a female sexual experience but, less scandalously, the female domestic experience. With its account of a woman who decides to exercise her independence as a human being and leave her husband to live alone, The Awakening attracted a tepid response from the gatekeepers of the turn-of-the-century American literary scene. Considering the fact that The Awakening was too radical for American readers at the time of its publishing suggests that Chopin knew full well that "The Storm" would have won her few fans.