Kate Chopin Biography

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Kate Chopin and The Awakening

Kate Chopin, born Catherine O'Flaherty was born on July 12, 1850 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother was a French-American, Eliza Faris and her father Thomas, an Irish immigrant. They were a happy family until her father died suddenly in 1855. A life surrounded by a father figure had ceased. She then had only female role models in her widowed mother, widowed grandmother and widowed great grandmother. Her other siblings also died while still in childhood. In 1868 Kate graduated from the St. Louis Academy of the Sacred Heart. She was then known at "one of the acknowledged belles of St. Louis." In June of 1870, Kate married Oscar Chopin of New Orleans, a Creole cotton broker, and moved to New Orleans with him. In May of 1871 she gave birth to her first son Jean, and then continued to give birth to 5 more children throughout the 1870's.

Kate was fulfilling the responsibilities expected of a typical young housewife. In the late 70's Oscars cotton brokerage business failed and three years later he past away suddenly.

These close relationships and how quickly they were lost is thought to be why she began to write. She wrote fiction seriously, including many short stories that were never published. This collection of short stories earned her the highest critical praise she would receive in her lifetime. Kate's need for self-identification and self understanding later became the core of the main characters in her stories. Through her life she was always searching for her role in society and who she was. This inner search became present in her writing and became a constant theme throughout her works. No matter the type of story it was you can always find at least one of her characters struggling...