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The Importance of Dialect and Names in Kate Chopin’s The Storm

The Importance of Dialect and Names in The Storm

Kate Chopin is able to put life into her characters in her short story The Storm because she has lived a life similar to that of the people in it. She was raised by her French Creole mother, which explains her ties to Creole in her story. She married a wealth New Orleans cotton broker and in 1888 he died. She was left with no money and six children so she turned to writing as a means to raise them. The characters in her story depict life in the Cajun area of America and it shows in the nature of their ways. She does this by giving them real characteristics that can make them seem more real. Among these characteristics are their names and their dialect.

Chopin’s use of Creole names in her story allows the reader to get a glimpse into the life of those living in French Creole areas. Names such as Bibi and Bobinot aren t common names to most living in other parts of the country. Because of this, readers are given a chance to read the story believing the characters to be real. Had their names been common such at John or Eric, the story would become unreal in the sense that it would be difficult for Chopin to make the reader believe that the story takes place in a Cajun-like surrounding.

Furthermore, other names in the story serve as a piece of the story setting as well. Bibi s wife Calixta is a good example of this as is Calixta s man friend Alcee Laballiere. Their names alone give you a sense that the story isn t set in just any area. Though Chopin doesn t ever say where the setting of the story is, but something insignificant like the names can be used to help the reader make his or her own assumptions. I got the sense that it was set in a Cajun area of the United States due to the French names. Bobinot and Laballiere are unmistakably French in nature and due to the fact that Cajun areas are heavily influenced by French, Chopin made a setting without ever having to actually say it.

Another way Chopin sets the mood of the story and makes it feel more believable is by giving her characters a Cajun slang in their conversations.

Foreshadowing in Kate Chopin’s The Storm

Foreshadowing in The Storm

Effectively using foreshadowing in a piece of literature enhances the reader’s curiosity. One clear example of such usage is seen in Kate Chopin’s writing. Her use of foreshadowing in the short story “The Storm” adds an element of intrigue, holding the reader’s interest throughout. In this story a father and son, Bobinôt and Bibi, are forced to remain in the store where they were shopping, waiting for an approaching storm to pass. Meanwhile, the wife and mother, Calixta, remaining at home, receives an unexpected visit from a former lover of hers, Alcée. The two lovers ultimately consummate their relationship. Alcée then departs once the storm subsides, at which time the father and son return home. No repercussions of the extramarital affair take place within the story.

Perhaps the clearest examples of foreshadowing in “The Storm” are the made when Chopin introduces the storm, writes that Calixta and Alcée had never been alone together since her marriage, calls attention to Calixta unbuttoning her garment because of the heat, mentions the distance separating Calixta from her husband and son and describes Calixta’s physical appearance. These areas of foreshadowing maintain the reader’s interest in the story and prepare the readers for the turn of events.

The first such signal given to the reader is found in the opening paragraph of the story. The atmosphere and the approaching storm are described and contrasted. The opening atmosphere’s tranquility is apparent because “[t]he leaves were so still that even Bibi thought it was going to rain” (665). This stillness prior to the storm …

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…anate seed. Her white neck and a glimpse of her full, firm bosom disturbed him powerfully” (667). This passion leads to physical touching, congering up past passionate feelings towards one another, ultimately leading to their intercourse.

As seen in “The Storm,” Chopin makes good use of foreshadowing throughout the short story. Had Chopin omitted her foreshadowing, the story would have lost much of its believability. It also would create an irrational storyline in which the extramarital affair occurs without any explanation or rationale. This would more than likely cause the reader to discount the story as unrealistic. Therefore, it is crucial that one notices the vital role foreshadowing plays in literature. Chopin did an excellent job in convincingly describing the turn of events in “The Storm” by using foreshadowing to do so.

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