Symbolism runs a rampant path throughout the story “The Storm”,written by Kate Chopin.
The storm brewing outside is used to symbolicallyrelate the storm of emotions going on between Calixta and Alcee inside thehouse. The intensity of their sexual act inside the house follows thepattern of the storm outside. Just as their passion climaxes so does thestorm. The underlying meaning of the story is about sexual energy, andpassion that is portrayed through an act of nature ( historicallyfemininely associated) – the storm.The storm has been brewing for some time as has the attractionbetween Calixta and Alcee. As the storm outside grows in intensity, thesexual tension between Calixta and Alcee also reaches a new level. Thestorm is personified as a deep, rumbling cloud of feminine sexuality andpassion waiting to explode.
Feminine sexuality and passion were faux pasin polite society and it was believed that women were not to have thosetypes of feelings. Chopin wrote about them in direct defiance of societalbeliefs.”She unfastened her white sacque at the throat. It began to growdark, and suddenly realizing the situation she got up hurriedly and wentabout closing windows and doors” (858). This passage hints at the comingsexual encounter, but also tells us how unaware of her own sexuality andpassion Calixta is. Her sexuality has been repressed by society’s view andher marriage and this is represented by her household chores she ishurrying to complete before the storm hits. Again, as Alcee enters thehouse, we see where Calixta has repressed her passion.
” Come ‘long in,M’sieur Alcee. His voice and her own started her as if from a trance, andshe seized Bobinot’s vest. Alcee, mounting to the porch, grabbed thetrousers and snatched Bibi’s braided jacket that was about to be carriedaway by the wind (858).”The mention of mounting the porch refers to themounting of Calixta that is to come. It is also a little ironic that Alceegrabs Bobinot’s pants, being as we all know that pants come off to performa sexual act.
This is an instance of defiance on the part of Alcee tothe fact that he is about to have sex with a married woman.”The playing of lightening was incessant. A bolt struck a tallchinaberry tree at the edge of the field. It filled all visible space witha blinding glare and the crash seemed to invade the very boards they stoodupon (859).” The lightening symbolizes the passion felt between Calixtaand Alcee. It draws them together as she falls into his arms and theirdesire could not be denied after they touched.Instead of running from the storm (the passion) they embraced it andexperienced it in full.
” They did not heed the crashing torrents, and theroar of the elements made her laugh as she lay in his arms. She was arevelation in that dim, mysterious chamber; as white as the couch she layupon (859).” The passionate storm has passed as has the raging stormoutside.White has long been a symbol of purity and goodness.
Themention of the white couch is symbolic of the lack of guilt she felt athaving made love to a man other than her husband.”The rain was over, and the sun was turning the glistening green worldinto a palace of gems…
.He turned and smiled at her with a beaming face;and she lifted her pretty chin in the air and laughed aloud (860).” Asense of inner peace and relaxation is felt after their joining and as thestorm diminishes. They were satisfied and calmed by the act just as theearth is satisfied by the cleansing rain. The earth was replenished and sowere the lovers.The following passage is used to describe Calixta and her family atdinner that same night.
“Bobinot and Bibi began to relax and enjoythemselves, and when the three seated themselves at table they laughed muchand so loud that anyone might have heard them as far away as Laballiere’s.(861). Calixta felt new in her secret and was able to relax and enjoy herfamily without the sexual frustration she had been feeling.
The laughtermay have also been an indication of the way she felt at the thought of arepeat meeting with Alcee.Throughout the story, Chopin presents the characters passion thoughthe symbolism of the storm. Their passion climaxes and diminishes with theintensity of the storm. Her characters are unaware of the passion withinthemselves and it is only by casting aside their constraints of societythat they are able to unleash this passion. Once this passion wasunleashed and fed they were able to appreciate the people and things aroundthem more fully.”So the storm passed and everyone was happy (861).
” Ambiguous as itmay seem, the last line of the story unifies the central idea of the story.The storm’s passage may be seen as a happy ending. Or, it may leave openthe possibility of another storm and another meeting between Alcee andCalixta.