CCTE: Gender and Literature- Chopin ‘The Storm’

Lorrie Wolfard, at Tarrant County College
“Gender and Genre Issues in Kate Chopin’s ‘The Storm’”

4th year of college level teaching
Ren. and romantic Brit lit
Hardin-Simmons and UNC Chapel Hill, degrees

This is a live blogging of the session.

transparency metaphor –LOVE IT!
transparency metaphor = description of teaching literary interpretation to students

Rather than search for “the one true transparency,” students consider several interpretations

“So the storm passed and everyone was happy” (Chopin 267).
reader does not expect happy ending
Because to be timeless, literature tends not to have a happy ending, except (sometimes) in fairy tales.

“The Storm” was not published until 1969, though it was written in 1898. Why not publish it till then and why publish it then? What was going on that allowed the publication then?

at time, sex = wifely duty
not what Chopin shoes

“happily ever after” could be wishful thinking, from cheating spouses
transparency 3: not taken at face value

genre possibilities:
horror genre– setting away from society, monster, villain who is warped
wonder tale- help us pay attention to changing condition of life, give us respect for life, not spoiled by conventionalism or power or rationalism (Zipes xviii)
fairy tale genre-
damsel in distress
prince on horseback
happy ever after

fairy tale genre in “The Storm”

any joyful sex is fulfilling — a sort of fairy tale wish

predictable consequences to sex, so that the story’s ending only expresses the lovers’ wish fulfillment)

Chopin showing tension btw wish and reality

If, then, the use of the fairy tale genre is germane to this story, what insight does it provide?

fairy tale transparency -> clear evidence ending line not necessarily Chopin’s opinion of affair

intelligent readers know genre: thus a tale of happiness no more true than a “happily ever after” fairy tale

  • If she believed that everyone would recognize the fairy tale aspects, doesn’t this mean that it could have been published? Is her failure to publish it an indication that she does not believe that it is a fairy tale, but is a realistic story which would not have been accepted by the culture of her day?

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