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Weather and its significance in Kate Chopin’s Short Stories

David Lodge spoke about weather and its importance in chapter 18 of his book the The Art of Fiction, and Lodge said regarding the weather “Never can there come fog too thick, never can there come mud and mire too deep, to assort with the groping and floundering condition which this High Court of Chancery, most pestilent of hoary sinners,holds, this day, in the sight of heaven and earth.” I think that Lodge is emphasizing the magnitude of weather  and how it controls a great majority of setting the mood in stories because it could affect the characters in a good and bad way. The weather also forces characters to work around it so if its an obstacle then they have to work hard to pass it and if its beneficial to them it could be a key to their success. Lodge talks about the air several times as a tool to bring people together and build strong bonds.

David Lodge also states that “We all know that weather affects our moods.” which means that lodge  believes that the weather affects how people feel so his belief applies to characters in all stories as well, because there mood is impacted by the weather that surrounds them. Lodge speaks about November and its importance because its between the beginning of winter and the end of fall, so we can see that the change of seasons has an effect on mood as well. Kate Chopin adopts lodges idea about the importance of weather in her short stories. In ” Beyond the Bayou” when La folle is beside Cheri who awakens during the sunrise this shows how Kate Chopin used the sunrise as a symbol of awaking. When La Folle crossed the bayou it was also a symbol of a border being risen  and now  a new freedom has emerged. Lodge also speaks about how “the weather adds what it could of gloom” which means that hes viewing the weather negatively and how its adding insult to injury in the situation. Ruskin replies to lodge and says that the weather couldn’t have an ominous intention, but lodge replies with how the summer storms precision which is a major fact that shows how the weather has intentions.

In Kate Chopin’s “La Belle Zoraide” weather is  also mentioned “The summer night was hot and still; not a ripple of air swept over the marais. Yonder, across Bayou St. John, lights twinkled here and there in the darkness, and in the dark sky above a few stars were blinking.” The story starts off immediately with a vivid description of the setting this shows how important the weather is to Kate Chopin because she started off the story with the weather . The weather is a key aspect in all stories due to it setting the mood, influencing events, and delivering messages.

Realism/Romanticism in Kate Chopin’s short stories:

Realism:

Realism portrays that a story is not imaginative or ideal, instead it is conveyed in a detailed, and unexaggerated way. Presenting that the characters live a life that is very casual and comparable to the normal living standards of society.

Realism is found in Kate Chopin’s stories such as “Beyond the Bayou”.

In “Beyond the Bayou”, La Folle who is a black woman living in a cabin near the Bayou takes care of her masters son Cheri. La Folle’s diction expressed in the story is seen as casual, which is one of the elements of realism. For example, she states on page 42: “Don’t you look fo no deer, Cheri. Dat’s too big. But you bring La Folle one good fat squirrel fo her dinner to-morrow, an she goin be satisfy.”

The way La Folle Communicates with her master’s son is a common, showing her real self and not a modified way of speaking. Using concrete words such as food reveal to the readers that this is a necessity to survive in life and this also shows realism.

The time frame in “Beyond the Bayou is taken place in the late 19th century many years after the civil war. La Folle’s Cabin is located across of the bayou where she hasn’t crossed until Cheri had gotten injured. The time frame and setting show signs of realism because there is a specific reference of the place in history the story is being taken, in and how La Folle lives in a cabin where most slaves lived in at that time and is a realistic home for her. Slavery in the story is a major aspect of realism because it shows inequality in society and how La Folle is a black woman living in a society where slavery is alive and the struggles she has to deal with.

Romanticism:

Romanticism is imaginative and idealistic, where the plot is more of a focus than the characters. The story is usually exaggerated and mysterious with formal diction, and the ending is of happiness.

Romanticism is also sprinkled onto the story of “Beyond the Bayou” when La folle crossed the bayou to save her masters son Cheri. As the story comes off to a close, she sits and watches the bayou from the other side with happiness and interest, this shows mysteriousness and causes the reader to ask, what is going to happen next?

Feminist literary theory applied to Chopin’s short stories (Eva)

Feminist Theory in Kate Chopin’s Short Stories:

Feminist Theory is a well-known women empowerment movement that consists of many different ideas and solutions to the unequal treatment of men and women. Feminism extends to many different issues and problems around the world and works to create political, economic, and social equality between both genders. Kate Chopin presents the Feminist Theory in many of her short stories, one of them being La Belle Zoraide. La Belle Zoraide is a story that entraps the reader into the emotions and feelings of Zoraide’s oppression. In this story, Zoraide, a slave, is being pushed into marrying a mulatto whom she does not wish to marry. Instead, she rebels against her slave master’s orders to keep away from Mezor, and has his child. Unfortunately, however, Zoraide was falsely told that her baby has passed away. This news overtook Zoraide’s insanity and caused her to love and cherish a pile of rags as if they were her child. This story displays feminist theory because Zoraide rebels against her master’s orders and does as she pleases with Mezor. I feel that this story was meant to bring light into the situation of African American women post-civil war and cause the readers to feel sympathetic to the main character. It also focuses on the revolt against a women’s job to conform to roles and social norms.

“‘Nénaine, you would not let me have Mézor for my husband; but I have disobeyed you, I have sinned. Kill me if you wish, nénaine: forgive me if you will; but when I heard le beau Mézor say to me, “Zoraïde, mo l’aime toi,” I could have died, but I could not have helped loving him.'” This quote is evidence of Zoraide’s decision to do as she pleases.

Narrative Structure

Narrative Structure

David Lodge oversees the idea and methodology of narrative structure through the keyhole point of view between two short stories. “The Hand” and “All Right” both are short stories but that is the only similarity they share between them as their narrative structures and internal verbal echoes prove to be each other’s greatest adversaries. He displays the stories bare in front of the reader to decipher on their own then later distinguishes and criticizes their true meanings, like peeling an onion only to find more to peel on the inside filled with an entirely new outlook.

Kate Chopin’s Short Stories

Regarding one of Kate Chopin’s short stories, “Dead Men’s Shoes”, we see how the story opens with a narrative structure that is simple enough. The reader automatically is aware of the situation by the end of the first sentence and is familiar with the syntax and diction that is being used. As the story progresses, however, we see many sudden shifts in points of view which change the narrative structure along with the diction and syntax. Most of the time this pertains to the change in dialogue especially between Gilma and Septime with words such as “hoss” meaning “horse” and “aff’davits” meaning “affidavit”. This odd use of language pertains to the way the language was during the time which may be difficult for the reader to understand and may cause slight difficulty with the narrative structure, but immerses the reader into the story more and makes the feel of the late 19th century Creole life during a post-civil war Louisiana.

Another example of the interesting use of Kate Chopin’s narrative structure in her short stories can be found in “The Lilies” which is also set in the late 19th century of a post-civil war Louisiana. The story opens not with our main characters but a mischievous vagabond by the name of Mamouche who let a calf loose and open the fence rails to Mr. Billy’s crop which soon was being destroyed by the calf as Mamouche ran away successfully completing his diabolical plan. This then lets the author introduce the main characters and the situation at hand and how eventually through the use of lilies, the problem was solved and forgiven for. The story was much more focused on the third person point of view and guided the reader throughout the story with similar syntax and diction with a dash of the French aristocracy that Louisiana had at the time.

 

The structure of a narrative is like the framework of girders that holds up a modern high-rise building; you can’t see it, but it determines the edifice’s shape and character.

I found this statement the most influentially echoing throughout my reading as it holds true to its meaning. The invisible and unnoticed strings of narrative structure within a story easily fall into one of the highest requirements of a well-told story. The characters, plot, points of view, and grammar mean nothing without the narrative structure as it is what ties them all together into a sensical piece of work that a reader can understand. It’s like making bread without the oven. You may have the flour, yeast, and water, but without the oven, you can’t make the bread you need. The narrative structure molds the entire story from beginning to end to what it will become and the decisions and character development and growth is all determined based on the events that occur and how they occur. The narrative structure is responsible for making novels such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”, which in my opinion has one of the most difficult and complex narrative structures, the masterpiece that it is.

 

Irony in Kate Chopin’s Lilacs and Other Stories

In David Lodge’s The Art of Fiction, he talks about Irony in chapter 39. He states that “irony consists of saying the opposite of what you mean or inviting an interpretation different from the surface meaning of your words.”  In Kate Chopin’s Beyond the Bayou there is irony found in the act of la Folle’s saving of Cheri. La Folle, the protagonist, loves the son of P’tit Maitre, Cheri, as if he was her own.  La Folle was unable to go “beyond the bayou” because of the trauma in seeing   P’tit Maitre “black with powder and crimson with blood”, while in the Bayou. Towards the end of the story, La Folle encounters Cheri shot by his own gun and wounded. The only way to save him was to cross the Bayou to the other side of the river. It is ironic how she would go beyond the bayou because of  a traumatic event but what ended up making her to go was something equally traumatic .

Lodge also says, “When a reader is made aware of a disparity between the facts of a situation and the character’ understanding of it, an effect called “dramatic irony” is generated.” In the story, La Belle Zoraide,  Manna Loulou tells the tale of forbidden love. La Belle Zoraide, was meant to marry M’sieur Ambroise but happen to fall in love with a slave to which she conceived a child with. La Belle’s mistress tells her that her baby died but the reader knows that it is in fact alive and  was sent away to a plantation. This creates dramatic irony and adds to the pain the reader feels for La Belle Zoraide’s loss.

The Impact of Titles

The Title: Lodge’s Ideas applied to Kate Chopin’s short stories

David Lodge begins his perspective on titles by stating that “The Title of the novel is part of the text.” It is the first part of the text that we encounter; it’s what draws us in and has the ability to “attract and condition the reader’s attention.” In Kate Chopin’s short stories, many of the titles are intriguing and create a picture in the reader’s mind before they even begin to read the text. Subconsciously, the reader begins to make assumptions about the text and once they have finished reading, there is always an attempt to understand how the title connects with the text. For example, in Kate Chopin’s Beyond the Bayou, the reader automatically assumes that there is something beyond the bayou that is unappealing to the main character. As Lodge said, “titles could indicate a theme . . . promise a certain kind of setting and atmosphere . . .” It is evident through the title that the main character will struggle with a problem and will have to go beyond it. The text then brings meaning to the title. Beyond refers to what is unknown to the character and represents the limits of individual experience and the Bayou is the watery land (marsh) on which the main character, La Folle, resides. Titles can also be symbolic or metaphorical titles. In Kate Chopin’s Dead Man’s Shoes, the main character Gilma, doesn’t have to literally ‘fill’ the dead man’s shoes, the dead man being his deceased master “le vieux Gamiche.” Metaphorically speaking, Gilma had to “fill the dead man’s shoes” by becoming the master of the land that le vieux Gamiche had left in his name. The titles have an impact on the reader and according to Lodge, “bring into sharper focus of what the novel is about.” Kate Chopin was able to bring to focus the main points of her stories through the use of the titles.

 

Motivation: Lodges ideas applied to Chopin

“Then shutting her eyes, she ran suddenly down the shallow bank of the bayou, and never stopped till she had climbed the opposite shore”

 

Lodge argues that we read novels that are fictional for “knowledge of the heart and mind”. Motivation in each novel or story can be perceived differently, however in Kate Chopins short story “Beyond the Bayou” it is incredibly evident. La Folle, an African American woman, who fears nothing more than crossing a certain line that she made up in her own mind. She does not know anything beyond the bayou except that which is in her imagination. However, when Cheri a young boy that La Folle loved dearly, accidently shoots himself in the leg on a Sunday morning, La Folle comes running to help. She cries for help and wishes to take him to the doctor but is too scared to pass the line she has drawn for herself. We see Lodges interpretation of motivation here, when La Folle finds motivation in Cheri to cross the Bayou to protect and save him. Everyone is surprised to see her pass the bayou but no one stops her because of her mad expression. After handing Cheri to his father she faints. The next morning she wakes and passes the Bayou again. This time alone, and yet her motive for passing remains the same as she makes her way to Cheri’s house. She knocks on his mothers door, and as she answers La Folle asks about Cheri. His mother tells her that he will recover. After that La Folle decides to wait on the veranda until Chéri wakes up,  she watches the sunrise with in contentment. For La Folle overcoming the bayou was something unimaginable to all the characters in the story. This may have also been a representation of overcoming slavery.This is because La Folles past bounded her and she had finally overcame it from the motivation that Cheri had given her.