“The Storm”: A Naturalism Perspective
Chopin’s “The Storm” subscribes to the naturalism paradigm that elevates the essence of nature in the influencing human life. It marks a departure from ideals of personal responsibility as a man is left to the whims of nature. In the storm, nature engineers an extramarital affair between former sweethearts. The circumstances surrounding the climate align the paths of Alcee and Calixta. The rigors of the storm cause Alcee to seek shelter in Calixta house. Nature’s ingenuity leads Calixta to the arms of his former sweetheart who had in the past demonstrated restraint when he desisted from taking Calixta virtue. However, this time he is much obliged to yield to nature’s beckoning. Calixta tries to resist the urge to rekindle their old flame when she breaks way from his initial embrace but is eventually overwhelmed by her primordial instincts. Their throws of passion mimic the storm in their intensity running parallel until their conclusion.
Nonetheless, she is not a helpless damsel; she is an equal participant in this force of nature. The scandal is a consequence of the cause and effect. For instance, the lightning drives Calixta to Alcee’s arms; Calixta does not willingly fall into the former’s embrace.
After the storm subsides, their common sense returns causing Alcee to ride off into the night living behind an unapologetic and satisfied Calixta. Meanwhile, Calixta’s husband, Bobinot, and their son, Bibi, are caught in the rain thus forced to remain at the shop until it subsides (Benton, Janetta, and DiYanni 259). They return home to a loving wife and mother who proceeds to make them a special supper given the extra ingredients, shrimps and “love”. On the other side, Alcee writes a letter to his wife allowing her to stay longer in her holiday destination. The wife is relieved to be given a break from her conjugal mandate. In the naturalism tradition, the author implies that succumbing to nature’s call leaves everyone happy. The affair does little to destabilize both Calixta and Alcee’s otherwise happy marriages. The story’s conclusion is ambiguous as the Alcee’s motives of writing the letter leaves speculation. Alcee appears to be enthusiastically awaiting the next storm to succumb to nature’s coercion.
to naturalism proponents, the two adulterous are not immoral given that the
affair was not premeditated. “The Storm” is a marked departure from romanticism
ideals that espoused the virtue of devotion over love and beauty (Campbell 76). The author
implies that given the characters’ history coupled together with the setting of
the room, the conspicuous bed, their sexual encounter was inevitable. Chopin depicts that the two characters are temporarily
deprived of their free will becoming puppets of their primitive instincts.
Nature undermines efforts of the two to remain faithful to their spouses.
Chopin attempts to illustrate a realistic encounter between former lovers whose
passion for each other has not waned without factors that would disrupt fate (Penrose
37). The naturalism perspective is flawed as the supreme nature would have been
kept in check in the presence of social controls such as a neighbor. As such,
the characters are not as helpless to natural forces. Chopin was attempting to
contravene social barriers in an otherwise conservative society. Her
perspective is informed by her personal experiences having engaged in an affair
after the death of her husband. Thus, her implication that after nature takes
its course life progresses unperturbed is a rationalization of her extra
Benton, Janetta R, and Robert DiYanni. Arts and Culture: An Introduction to the Humanities. Boston [etc.: Prentice Hall, 2012.
Campbell, Donna M. Bitter Tastes: Literary Naturalism and Early Cinema in American Women’s Writing. Athens : The University of Georgia Press, 2016.
Penrose, Patricia. “American Realism: 1865-1910.” American Literature Resources (2014).