2015 Louisiana Studies Conference Presentation Abstract

“‘But they dared not yield’: A [Re]Reading of Chopin’s ‘The Storm’”

Presented by Derek Foster, Upper Iowa University, Alexandria

Though written in 1898, Chopin’s “The Storm” did not appear in print until 1969. The sequel to “At the ‘Cadian Ball,” “The Storm” brings to light many commonplace themes found in Chopin’s fiction–love, place, and autonomy. Chopin presents her readers with Calixta and Clarisse, who both find themselves trapped in confining gender roles. Though they both find a way to challenge their roles, they still keep their roles intact, a narrative technique that Chopin employs throughout her fiction. Although Chopin devotes most of her story to Calixta, her portrayal of Clarisse is just as crucial to the reader’s understanding of the story. While each character challenges her gender norm, Chopin gives her readers two diametrically opposed females, who are at a crossroads, of sorts, in their marriages. In their quests for love, place, and autonomy, Calixta and Clarisse utilize two different strategies, though they achieve the same goal. They both “dare not yield” to their confining gender roles.