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The storm by Cate Chopin is a short story that tells of a passionate encounter between two old lovers as one seeks shelter from a ranging storm. The story is told in five short parts; part one discusses how Bibi and his father who have gone out shopping witness a storm in the horizon, they start to discuss whether Bibi's mother is worried about them. In part two, Bobinot's wife Calixta happens to be at home when another storm occurs, as the storm gets worst a man approaches her house and requests to shelter from the bad weather, this man ,Alcee, happens to be Calixta's old lover. Part three starts with the end of the bad weather, the two old love birds happily part ways. Bibi and his father return home and find Calixta in a very good mood. Part four and five state that Alcee is also married to Clarisse with home he has children. Clarisse who happens to be away visiting friends is thankful for the separation from her husband and the problems associated with the marriage (Chopin 1-128).
In most cases extreme circumstances cause extreme behaviors
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The issue of extreme circumstances causing extreme behaviors emerges as one of the most outstanding questions that have been posed in the story. In day to day life, some circumstances force or make us to behave in a socially unacceptable manner. Frequently, this goes beyond the expectations of the society and those around us. Andrew (44) says that there is a force that drives us to do some things or to undertake an activity without fear of the consequences that may come about. When Calixta meets up with an old lover, she forgets that she is a wife to someone as they reunite. The old frame is rekindled and each of them lives for the moment. The reunion is made possible by the harsh weather as Alcee seeks shelter from the storm.
When father and son arrive home they find Calixta joyful in an unusual way, she seems very happy despite the fact that his husband and son were out in the storm. Her encounter with her old time lover has spurred very strong feelings in her. This makes her to consider the moment that they share with Alcee special hence forgetting that her husband and son are outside. McGrath (56) sees this kind of behavior as a common phenomenon in today's marriages. Couples live for the moment and the death or departure of the partner does not matter much, there is always someone who can replace a loved one. It is evident that her encounter with her ex-lover was of much importance since she seems unperturbed by the fact that her husband and son are outside. This issue questions the love that she has towards her son and husband.
Andrew (23) confirms that love can be explained by looking at it from different perspective. What do we call the feeling that exists between Alcee and Calixta? Is it love or lust? They share a passionate affair as the storm ranges on. In this context, she represents the modern day woman who will go out of her way and have affairs outside. Research has shown that infidelity cases among women are on the rise, times have changes and women are stepping up. The issue of infidelity was in the past seen as a man's vice, today; women are also involved in it.
As the storm ranges on, so does the interaction between them. They get close to each other to the extent of becoming intimate. It is possible that the intensification of the storm gives her the confidence that her husband and son would not be back soon. This gives her a chance to share good times with her old lover. She shares a special moment with Alcee thanks to the storm. The intensifying storm also gives them an opportunity and this does not bother her much that her husband and son were outside and that they could be hurt. According to Bloom and Charlie (77), we easily forget the most precious things in our lives when we encounter things that are supposedly of importance to us, he further notes that we tend to forget that some things last for a short period, he compares short lived moments with vapor, some incidents may linger in our minds for long but holding on to them is useless since they are short lived. This mostly touches the relationship between Alcee and Calixta, they are both married hence they can only have fun for limited time since they are both committed to other people.
The author refers to their past relationship as a 'relatively innocent relationship' this shows that the two once related but their relationship never matured enough. This aspect left them with some lingering feelings for each other. They went their separate ways before their love grew stronger. The author uses this to symbolize a relationship that is short lived; the relationship forces the partners to part ways due to some circumstances. It however happens that if the two had strong feelings for each other, then their second encounter may spur some feelings towards them just like was the case with Alcee and Calixta (Chopin 45). Once they recognize each other they feel the connection hence the interaction between them intensifies.
The dialogue between son and father on whether Calixta will be worried about them shows that they are doubtful. The issue of whether a loved one will be worried if you are in danger should not be debatable. This issue makes the reader to wonder if she was a caring mother and wife. Our loved ones are a priority and their safety is our happiness (McGrath 66-67), this is not the case with Calixta, however much she may try to conceal it, it was apparent that she was not sad. She looks like someone who was not worried about anything. It is possible that she had shown some signs of this nature hence the two were not sure whether she could be worried about them.
Clarisse is said to be happy with the separation from her husband and the restraints in her marriage. This symbolizes an unhappy marriage. The fact that she is far away from her husband makes her feel good since she does not have to face the many constraints of their marriage. This can further indicate that Alcee is not happy too, he takes advantage of the situation. Their marriage is on the rocks but the encounter makes both of them (Alcee and Calaxta) happy. Both marriages are not brought out as strong since Alcee and Calaxta go out of their way and cheat on their partners. Sometimes those we love can be a source of sorrow hence separating from them is a relief, such people may take advantage of the fact that they are loved or simply choose to be selfish when it comes to reciprocating the love.
The intensification of the storm symbolizes the growing attraction between the two old lovers. The author states that as that as the storm grows stronger so does the interaction between them. This also shows the storm acts as some form of force that compelled them to ignite the lost feelings. Initially, they address each other formally to some extent but as the storm grows stronger, the feelings towards them also grows, this could have reminded them of the old good times that they once had. Given that this may be the only moment that they will share, they do not waste it, instead they take advantage of the moment to the fullest.
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The end of the stormy weather marks the end of their reunion. Alcee has to leave to avoid any suspicion. He leaves immediately leaving Calixta, both of them are very happy. This could also mean that they might never share such a moment since such a chance may never present itself. The end of the stormy weather could also mean that they could now meet in hiding since Alcee now knows where she lives.
There are multiple themes that can be extracted from this story; however, major themes arise from the attitude towards infidelity in a marriage setting and a woman who is not afraid to follow her sexual desire. The most outstanding issues in the story rotate around the issue of infidelity, this serves as the key theme of the story. These themes include roles played by sex and love in marriage, women's sexuality, honesty, guilt and lack of guilt (Chopin 1-128). These focus on the issue of infidelity in a marriage.
Honesty is an important element in any marriage set up. It is important to be honest to self and to our partners. Calaxta emerges as a dishonest person since she cheats on her husband. Bloom and Charlie (98) state that honesty is a building block to the success of any marriage, its absence leads to marriages that are not based on trust, this makes people to live together because they have to but not because they have the desire to do so. Both Alcee and Caloxta are not honest to themselves, their affair is short lived and they have both made commitments to other people. They both cheat on their partners because they are confident that this will not be discovered. In his book Taking Advantage, Andrew (55) tries to emphasize the importance of honesty in any relationship, he states that honesty helps to build trust and with that a good relationship is established.
The issue of feeling guilty or not feeling comes out in the story. Rather than showing any signs of regret they both part ways happily. When Bibi and his father arrive home, they find Caloxta happy and not worried about their whereabouts. She does not feel guilty of cheating on her husband, further, she does not feel guilty because she had forgotten about them after meeting Alcee. This indicates that at that moment, her family has ceased to be a priority.
The short story The Storm focuses on the question on whether extreme circumstances can cause extreme behaviors. The above discussion proves that indeed, this can be the case. Extreme behaviors are evidenced when Alcee and Caloxta meet. The two had been lovers several years back and their meeting made the feelings to resurface. Symbolism has been used in the story to represent different aspects. The main themes in the story focus on infidelity in marriage and a woman who goes out of her way to fulfill her sexual desire.