Kate Chopin Authorial Profile
Kate Chopin (February 8, 1850 – August 22 1904) was an American author of feminist realistic fiction short stories and novels. She was apart of the Abolishonist movement as well as the emergence of feminism, and lived through the Civil War.
Chopin was born and raised in Saint Louis Missouri by her father, a successful businessman who immigrated from Ireland, and her mother, of French Canadian descent. Chopin was the third of five children, but her sisters died in infancy and her brothers in their early twenties (Wikipedia, 2015).
At the tender age of 5 1/5, while at a Catholic boarding school, her father died in a train accident. She spent the next two years at home with her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, all of whom were widows. It was during that time that she was surrounded by educated, independent women who taught her of their French heritage (Wyatt, 1994).
In 1870, at the age of 20, she married Oscar Chopin and moved to New Orleans, Louisiana. There, Chopin and her husband had a loving relationship and 7 children within the first 8 years of marriage (Wyatt, 1994).
By 1879, her husbands business failed and the family moved to Cloutierville, Louisiana to manage several plantations and a general store. After her husband’s death in 1882, Chopin was left with a large amount of debt, but continued to run his business for the next two years. She then sold the business and moved back to Saint Louis at the urging of her mother. Unfortunately, her mother died the following year (Wikipedia, 2015).
Due to depression after the loss of her mother and husband, a family friend encouraged her that writing would act as a therapy as well as a source of income (Wikipedia 2015). Although she had been writing her whole life, this started Kate Chopin’s career in published writing.
Chopin published many very successful short stories for the local newspaper. Included in those are the stories of Desiree’s Baby and At the ‘Cadian Ball.
Desiree’s Baby is set in Creole Louisiana during the antebellum period. The main character Desiree, who was adopted at birth and knows nothing of her heritage other than she looks white, marries a wealthy plantation owner. Their marriage begins lovingly, but after she has their first child, a son, they come to realize the baby is part black. This embarrasses and infuriates her husband and leads him to banish Desiree and their child from the estate. Broken hearted, she walks out into the bayou in her nightgown and disappears with the baby eluding that she and the child perish there. Her husband then burns all of her belongings along with the baby’s cradle. Afterwards, he came across a letter from his mother addressed to his father stating that she was the one born to the race of slavery (2). The contents of this story are clearly meant to highlight the issues of slavery and the segregation of the races.
At the ‘Cadian Ball is about a party for young Cajun singles to find marriage suitors. The story starts out with Bobinot day dreaming about the beautiful vixen Calixta who is the most desired. To her, all the men are boring except a hard working plantation owner named Alcee. He shows up to the party distressed and late after loosing most of his crops to a tornado a couple days before.