Kate Chopin (1850-1904) was a writer of short stories and two novels. Her work would fall into the category of realistic fiction/realism. Her short stories were popular during her time but her career went downhill after the publishing of The Awakening due to the novel’s controversial subject matter. However, she was later considered one of the best writers of her time and is often studied in literature classes.
The short stories widely considered her best include: “The Storm”, “The Story of an Hour”, “Desiree’s Baby”, “A Pair of Silk Stockings.”
Kate Chopin wrote two novels, At Fault and The Awakening. At Fault was a critical failure and even today it’s not read or studied very much.
The Awakening was controversial and condemned when published during Chopin’s time because of its themes. The publishing of the novel also ended her career. But the book was later republished and proved to be influential. There’s now a lot of scholarly work that deals with it.
Much of her writing is “local color.” As in it deals with the setting of certain areas in detail. In Chopin’s case, her work often took place in Louisiana and she wrote much about Creole culture.
The themes of her writing often dealt with women’s place in society and how they could rise as individuals.
What does Kate Chopin Mean to me?
I did a full length paper on The Awakening. I was impressed with the novel’s boldness and masterfully woven plot and themes. It’s a short novel yet it has so many layers beneath the surface. Chopin’s work fascinates me so much I love to analyze and explore it.
It seems a lot of casual readers don’t like The Awakening…criticism I often hear is “Edna [The main character] is selfish!” I have the ultimate pretentious response to this: “They just don’t get it.”
Kate Chopin’s short stories interest me a lot as well. My favorites are “Regret”, “Desiree’s Baby”, “The Story of an Hour.” I feel these stories capture her themes and style the best. I like the “The Storm” too but feel it’s overrated…it’s just too “romantic” for my taste.
As for At Fault: Let’s just I can understand why it was never and hasn’t been a success, I am sad to say.
Most of all, I thank Kate Chopin for being one of the first writers to help expand my literary tastes. Exploring The Awakening, made me want to explore other works of literature and see what they hold beneath the surface as well.