Setting and Storytelling in Chopin’s “The Storm” Essay
Updated: Jan 16th, 2021
The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how Chopin expertly used setting – an element of fiction – to enhance the storytelling process. Chopin could have straightforwardly told the story but it would have lacked the power and therefore less effective. It was interesting to discover during the study that the setting did not only provide a backdrop but also help develop the story. Furthermore, Chopin was able to present a complex and multi-layered setting. She did not only talk about the French-inspired custom and culture of the place but she placed a gathering storm amid the story.
The process was enjoyable but not without difficulty. The most challenging part is ho to completely comprehend the meaning of the statements that were made because there was a boy talking gibberish and his father doing the baby talk and finally the characters used words that seem only understandable if one is a native of that place. Nevertheless, one has to realize that Chopin has presented an authentic picture and in so doing the characters came alive.
The strength of the paper can be seen in how the setting, as an element of fiction was clearly explained. However, if given the chance to revise the paper it would be better to write more about the multiple purposes and different meanings of the “storm” because there seems to be more about it other than the fact that it was used as a tool to force Alcee and Calixta to come together. The writer’s experience with storms allows for a better understanding as to why people are forced to take shelter and why it is wiser to stay indoors and wait out for the rain and the wind to stop.
The setting allowed the reader to be transported to 19th century America, in a location heavily influenced by the French. But more than that the setting explains why husband and wife were separated and why the husband was forced to wait out the storm. Bobinot had Bibi with him and therefore he could not risk the short journey back to his house. The storm did not only bring rain but there were thunder strikes with a booming sound and a deadly aim that made the people thought the ground shook with every burst of the thunderclap.
The setting explains why Calixta was home and why she was alone. Normally, there is a hired help that comes along to give her assistance with household chores but on this particular day, the author said that she had no one with her. The setting describes the humid weather just before the storm hits and explains why she had to unfastened her “sacque” exposing her breast (Chopin, p.1). The setting also helps clarify why Calixta was so preoccupied with her work that she did not notice the incoming bad weather as well as the approaching Alcee.
The setting tells the reader that it was in the afternoon therefore when the storm clouds gathered it was easy to block off the remaining light and created the effect as if it was dusk. The pounding rain however did not only muffle the sound of the creatures –both human and animals but it also obscured vision. It was extremely difficult for neighbors to see the silhouette of each other’s houses and therefore it was impossible to see what was happening behind the windowpanes. In other words, it isolated the houses from neighbors and prying eyes.
The storm did not only affect visibility but it created a mild fear in the hearts of the inhabitants of that small town that no one dared venture outside their homes. Their thoughts were preoccupied only with one thing; for those who are outside they needed shelter and for those who are inside their homes they prayed for the storm to stop its raging. But for Alcee and Calixta the setting, specifically, the storm gave them the excuse to stay indoors.
The rain, the thunderclap, and the sudden feeling of dread forced ex-lovers to embrace each other once again. As a result, the setting was not only used as a backdrop but Chopin used it as a force to move her characters and compelled them to do something that they would not have done without the elements found in the setting. They fell in love with each other and decided to pursue an illicit affair and the storm was their cover.
They believe that they will not be found out because Bobinot will never be able to come home early, not with Bibi in tow. The mud and the water were obstacles that even her husband could not overcome. Even if Sylvi suddenly developed the urge to come and visit and help Calixta she would not be able to do so because of the fierceness of the storm. It allowed Calixta and Alcee to start a forbidden love affair. The setting provided clues as to why Alcee can roam the countryside without a wife who will be worried about his long absence and since Alcee’s wife is far away he need not explain why it took him a long time to get home.
Before going any further, the setting revealed a kind of atmosphere that could easily create a dull and boring existence. This rural setting provided little distraction and the distance from one house to the next can easily make one lonely. The setting greatly assisted Chopin in her characterization of Bobinot, Calixta, and Alcee. For example, the storm created rain and also thick mud that stick to the clothes of Bobinot and Bibi. Because of the mud and their dirty appearance, it revealed a weakness in Bobinot’s character. Chopin said that he even went through the backdoor to evade the judging eyes of his wife. As a result, the reader is given a clue why Calixta may have found Alcee exciting and committed adultery with him.
Chopin expertly used the setting to create a powerful short story. The brilliance of Chopin is not only seen in the creation of a believable world that gave her characters the freedom to do what they were supposed to do in accordance to the plot of the story but it also became a force that compelled them to action. The most important component of the setting was the storm. The sound, the intense light, and the fear it generated provided a backdrop as to why the characters were forced to be in one particular location at a given time. Thus, a few hours before dinnertime, Bobinot and Bibi were trapped inside Friedheimer’s store while Calixta was trapped within the arms of a lover. The storm gave them cover to commit adultery but the storm also had a double meaning – it also means that from that time forward there will be a storm in their respective marriages.
Chopin, Kate. The Storm. 1898.
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Updated: Jan 16th, 2021 The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how Chopin expertly used setting – an element of fiction – to enhance the storytelling process. Chopin could […]