In the short story “The Storm” by Kate Chopin, the main character Calixta is a wife and mother who appears to be unhappy and restless in her marriage and commits adultery. Calixta is able to fulfill her sexual desires with another man and does not feel guilty about it. Some readers may say that Calixta’s attitude on having an affair is selfish and most readers will not identify with the main character but may know characters that have Calixta’s mentality.
Readers first get a glimpse of Calixta in the beginning of the story when her son Bibi mentions she’ll be afraid of the approaching storm; he refers to her as “Mama” (99). Calixta’s husband Bobinot reveals her name as he thinks of her when he finds a can of shrimp she’ll like. Calixta is officially introduced at home working as she waits for her son and husband to come home. She is described to be a good wife who takes pride in her housework. Chopin writes, “She sat at a side window sewing furiously on a sewing machine” (99).
This tells readers she works hard to take care of her home and is probably sewing furiously to tend to other chores mentioned such as laundry, cleaning and making supper. She is more thoroughly described physically as beautiful, “…but she had lost nothing of her vivacity. Her blue eyes still retained their melting quality…” Readers will assume that she is very pretty and even though it’s been a few years since her and Alcee had their encounter a few years back, she is still beautiful.
Readers may have the impression that because of Calixa’s marriage, she’s grounded in family life however Chopin’s description of her looks implies that she hasn’t lost the qualities that make her interesting and eye-catching. Chopin has established that Calixta is a good mother and wife at the beginning of the story but once Calixta see’s Alcee, readers begin to see a change within her and how apparently the significance of her marriage does also.
She was trying to contain her sexual longings with Alcee by thinking of her son and husband but her urges overpowered her and she gave in to her own sexual cravings. Even as Alcee enters the home and sits, Calixta is trying to occupy herself and not focus on Alcee to avoid the awkwardness, “Alcee flung himself into the rocker and Calixta nervously began to gather up from the floor the lengths of a cotton sheet which she had been sewing” (100). Calixta is so nervous she doesn’t even sit with Alcee, she goes to stand by a window.
When Alcee eventually grabs her and begins to kiss her, her desires to be with him sexually overflow and she gives no indication that she hesitates but actually is enjoying it, “When he touched her breast they gave themselves up in quivering ecstasy, inviting his lips. Her mouth was a fountain of delight” (101) By Calixta giving in and putting aside the value of her marriage, the reader is able to understand Calixta’s hidden and forbidden desire towards Alcee and most importantly the lack of satisfaction with her and Bobinot.
After Calixta’s fulfilling sexual encounter with Alcee they both lay motionless together and Calixta seems to find meaning in what was just done, “With one hand she clasped his head, her lips lightly touching his forehead. The other hand stroked with a soothing rhythm his muscular shoulders” (102). Readers may find that this little action gives the impression that she was more than accepting of her decision as she lay there in contentment. There was no regret from Calixta and even as Alcee left she “laughed aloud” (102).
Calixta is able to fall right back into the role of wife and mother as her son and husband go back home. She greets them with what readers may think is exaggerated excitement; this may be to not give clue of what just occurred in the home of Bobinot. Calixta states, “Oh, Bobinot! You back! My! But I was uneasy. We’re you been during the rain? An’ Bibi? He ain’t wet? He ain’t hurt? ” she grabs her husband and begins “kissing him effusively” (102).
Calixta’s excessive questions and overbearing kisses give no room for Bobinot to think of anything other than his wife’s worrisome feelings and actually make things better for the family. Bobinot and his son were already worried that Calixta was going to be upset because they were late but Calixta’s expressions of satisfaction of their return made for a good family dinner. There is no doubt her husband loves and cares for her but her feelings and passion seemed untouched by Bobinot. Before her marriage, Alcee seemed to satisfy her in a way that Bobinot does not, but since she loves her family she represses those feelings.
The story of Calixta is saddening to me but as a mother myself, I can understand why she chooses to repress her feelings. Her husband seems to give her no cause to disrupt family life and leave the marriage and she does not make that decision based on pure selfish reasons. Her choice simply relieved her possible frustrations for a while. Work Cited Chopin, Kate. “The Storm. ” Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Writing. Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 3rd ed. New York: Longman, 2010. 98-103. Print.