In Kate Chopin’s story “The Storm,” sex is a crucial part of the story. To be more specific, adultery. Chopin uses the theme of forbidden love to tell a story that is used to further the author’s opinion. Chopin also uses symbols and characterization to her advantage. The themes of “The Storm” tie in with the characters and symbols to allow Chopin to express her opinion on sexuality and marriage.
The characters of the storm allow Chopin to create her own scenario in which she can express her views. The main characters of “The Storm” are Calixta and Alcee. The pair are forced together by the titular storm (117). Trapped together in Calixta’s house, they engage in sex. Finally alone together after many years, old memories rekindle a suppressed passion from their youth. In the story, Alcee mentions that he was always unable to follow through with his desires for Calixta (118). Calixta herself is the personification of Chopin’s ideas. Calixta is a woman who is repressed and tied to her husband. When she lets go of her inhibitions, she finds herself refreshed and happy (119). This is in accordance with Chopin’s ideas that marriage is a constricting tradition that eliminates the free will of both participants. However, Alcee is longing for a relationship because he is separated from his wife (119). When Alcee and Calixta have their adulterous affair, Alcee’s feelings of loneliness leave. He finds himself soothed and comforted (119). It is in these two characters that Chopin expresses the idea that adultery is not a harmful act, but instead is an act that can serve as a change of pace for an individual who is feeling dreariness in their life due to the monotony of marriage.
Yet the characters of Bobi and Bobinot are oblivious to what is happening at their home while they are trapped in town by the storm. Bobi is the main catalyst in the story for exposition on Bobinot and Calixta’s relationship. Whenever Bobi appears in the story, Bobinot will usually mention Calixta, giving us a deeper insight into the relationship between Bobinot and Claixta. Bobinot is Chopin’s stereotypical husband. Bobinot’s character is that of a undependable husband who is almost always with his wife, always binding her with his will. Yet, Bobinot also seems to be bound by the marriage. Bobinot mentions that Calixta would be furious if she saw the mess that Bobi made on his clothes (119). Bobi also bought a can of Calixta’s favorite food in order to appease her for being late from coming home from the store (116). The character of Clarisse does not receive to much characterization. Yet, she plays a role in revealing that Alcee is lonely due to them being separated by Alcee’s job. Clarisse on the other hand, is liberated by the separation from Alcee. She finds that being away from her husband allows her to pursue her hobbies and to socialize with friends (119).
The storm itself is the largest piece of symbolism in the story.The storm represents two things. First and foremost, it represents Alcee and the passionate moment with Calixta. Just as the storm came, rained, and left in a matter of moments, so did Alcee. Alcee arrived, initiated the sex with Calixta, and left. The second theme that the storm represented was the scorn that Bobinot and Clarisse would have for Calixta and Alcee if the affair was ever discovered. The story tells us that the actual storm passed by without doing any real damage, leaving the city as it had been before the storm. This parallels the fact that neither Bobinot nor Clarisse found out, and that the marriage continued on as usual.
In conclusion, Chopin used the theme of a storm to tell a story that allows her to express her views on marriage and sexuality. While the ideas Chopin expressed are what could be considered “feminist” today, she argues that marriage is constricting to both sexes, and that untraditional and even taboo sexual practices can be liberating.