Kate Chopin – 'The Awakening'

Essay by porcupinetreeUniversity, Master's October 2008

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Kate Chopin - 'The Awakening'BiographyKate Chopin was born Katherine O'Flaherty in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1851. Her mother's family was Creole, descended from French settlers, and her father, а successful merchant, was an Irish immigrant. She was educated at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Louis beginning in 1860, five years after her father's accidental death, and was graduated in 1868. In 1870, she married Oscar Chopin, who took her to live in Louisiana, first in New Orleans and later in Natchitoches Parish, the setting for many of her stories. In 1882, Oscar died of swamp fever; Kate Chopin managed her husband's properties for а year and in 1884 returned to St. Louis. (Seyersted, 110-115) The next year her mother died, and in 1888 Chopin began writing out of а need for personal expression and to help support her family financially. Her stories appeared regularly in popular periodicals, and she published а novel, At Fault, in 1890.

Bayou Folk, а collection of stories and sketches, appeared in 1894, the year her widely anthologized "The Story of an Hour" was written. А Night in Acadie followed, and she was identified as one of four outstanding literary figures in St. Louis by the Star-Times. Her celebrated novel, The Awakening, received hostile reviews that upset her, though reports about the book being banned were greatly exaggerated. She did, however, write relatively little after this controversy and died five years later in St. Louis, where she was attending the world's fair. (Boren et al, 3-5)Until the 1970's, Kate Chopin was known best literarily, if at all, as а "local colorist," primarily for her tales of life in New Orleans and rural Louisiana. Chopin manages in these stories (about two-thirds of her total output) to bring to life subtly the settings and personalities...