The Shared Qualities of Kate Chopin Stories Kate Chopin was a writer born in 1850. She had much of her work publish in the 1890’s in Vogue Magazine. History tells us that this was a time of great repression for women, and certainly, not a time when a women’s independence was an admired characteristic. Clearly, Chopin was not a conformist. Often people refer to Chopin as a feminist. For many, the term feminist evokes an image of a woman who is aggressive and combative. She is not. In reading, “Ripe Figs” “Desiree’s Baby” and “A Story of An Hour” she displays a personality that is witty, passionate, intelligent and mindful of the challenges and struggles that many women of her era endured. Her ability to tackle difficult social issues with easy and wit, I believe, is what has led to her timeless appeal. “Ripe Figs”, was published by Vogue Magazine in 1893. She fills this story with layers of contrast that keeps the reader thinking much after they have finished reading. This is a one-page story and was originally written as a children’s book (katechopin.org). The feeling is relaxed, but sophisticated at the same time. The main character’s, Maman-Nainaine, the godmother to Babette, we believe to be the age of a traditional grandmother, and Babette is a child of maybe five or six. The story begins with Maman-Nainaine giving Babette permission to visit her cousins, “…when the figs were ripe…” What a charming way to convey a measure of time to a child. We imagine the godmother to be intelligent and thoughtful. Chopin leaves us with a curious question though, when she adds, “Not that the ripening of figs had the least thing to do with it…” This is a lovely balance of charm and thought provoking wit. She contrast their varying levels of patients by describing the godmother to be, “as patient as the statue of la Madone, and Babette as restless as a hummingbird…” When the time arrives and the figs are ripe, Babette presents Maman-Nainaine with the figs, arranged beautifully, on a beautiful, delicate dish. It seems that Babette has acquired some of her godmother’s sophistication and thoughtfulness. Few mothers will miss how effortlessly Maman-Nainaine’s refined personality has influenced her godchild and undoubtedly enjoy what society has not appreciated or has simply missed. With, “Desiree’s Babes”, Chopin addresses the issue of racism. She brings about the shame of racism and the destruction it brings to both parties in the most surprising way. The story takes the reader on a journey of true love and the power that a baby has to warm our hearts. We know these two main characters; Desiree and Armand are truly in love from the words that Madame Valmonde uses to describe the two. She says that it was the simple vision of Desiree that caused Armand to fall in love. Love at first sight, is something no one can explain but it power we all seem to understand. Chopin also states Armand’s initial concerned about Desiree and her lack of lineage; “What did it matter about a name when I could give her one of the oldest and proudest in Louisiana?” The words are saying that it doesn’t matter to him, but we know better when we are reading a Kate Chopin story. There is always another layer to the words that are written. The ending is outstanding with her skillful use of irony. In effect, Armand learns that his mother is the one who is from the “tainted” lineage, which makes himself the cause of his shame. We see again, a very Chopinques, ironic ending. She uses shame to show case racism and the characters to provoke us into recognizing the destruction felt by everyone it touches. “The Story of An Hour” was published in Vogue, December 1894. Again, Chopin treats her readers to an insightful view, of an intelligent woman, and the intricate emotions experienced by her in a relationship. The conclusion has a fantastic, Chopinsque, ironic ending. She uses foreshadowing to set us up. We know poor Mrs. Mallard has a bad heart and her
puzzle. The Bible tells
stories of many people trying and failing to figure out who Jesus is and why he matters. Jesus, in turn, most often
tries to explain himself by telling stories and parables, which then require further interpretations from his listeners.
From the start, then, encountering Christ puts us not only in the realm of theology but also of literature.
In this course, we’ll look at how medieval and modern writers have riffed on and reacted to the story of Christ
presented in the…