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20100121-1230 Chopin and Realism (Group 2)

Page history last edited by vjackso 10 years, 10 months ago

Summary-Kate Chopin "The Storm" (1878), Henry James "The Art of Fiction"(1884) and "Daisy Miller"(1878)


“The Storm" is the sequel to "The 'Cadian Ball," the story of the courtship between Calixta, Alcee and Bobinot.  Kate Chopin's story is provocative because it not only deals with adulteryy but with women's sexuality. Although Chopin finished "The Storm" in 1898, it was not published until 1969. In the story, Calixta and Alcee commit adultery but nothing detrimental happens to them. This lack of reprimand is unexpected because readers want poetic justice.  There is also a sense of role reversal; Calixta is not shy and presents an open enjoyment of sex while Alcee seems displaced. Readers get a sense that the adultery just happens.  Perhaps Chopin is saying that in order for everyone to be happy, women should be in charge of their sexuality and allowed to embrace it.


 During the nineteenth century, many important inventions were created. Along with the railroad, which made the country more accessible, there was the invention of photography in 1836.  The most popular things to take pictures of were dead people because their loved ones wanted to have an image of them to remember.  This is a type of storage technology because it captures the true likeness of something, much like realism, a movement in literature which attempts to capture life as it really happens.  Dull everyday life is accurately illustrated and has representative characters created by an impartial artist.  "Daisy Miller" is an example of realism because the characters are real, everyday people.  




Is "Daisy Miller" a tragedy? To answer this question we have to ask if Daisy ultimately gets what she deserves by dying (this will be further discussed in the next class).



Word Count: 272




"The Storm"-1878


pg.533- "The growl of the thunder was distant and passing away.  The rain beat softly upon the shingles, inviting them to drowsiness and sleep.  But they dear not yield." 


These three sentences are needed in the story but are misplaced.  It seems as if Chopin would but this in the beginning when Alcee and Calixta could not yield to sex.  All three sentences show up too late.  These sentences are referring to the fact that they can not fall asleep no matter how inviting.  If they were to sleep, they would be caught by Bobinot and Bibi. With these lines Chopin is giving the reader yet another shock, she is expressing the fact that Alcee and Calixta are not feeling guilt or worry over their actions, but a fear of getting caught.



"The Storm" - 1878


p. 533 - "Bonte!" she cried, releasing herself from his encircling and retreating from the window, "the house'll go next! If I only knew w'ere Bibi was!" She would not compose herself; she would not be seated. Alcee clasped her shoulders and looked into her face. The contact of her warm, palpitating body when he had unthinkingly drawn her into his arms, had aroused all the old-time infatuation and desire for her flesh.


The way Chopin writes this passage, it seems as though all of the actions are almost accidental. For example, the "contact" is what aroused the desire, and Alcee "unthinkingly" draws Calixta into his arms. This seems to take the sole responsibility for what occurs off of any one person, or even off of the couple themselves. Instead, the whole act of adultery is illustrated as something natural that just occurred without any calculation or manipulation. This would have majorly contradicted the social norms of the day. Also, the use of the expression "Bonte!" is a clear example of regionalism, because it reflects the mixed French/English dialect that would have been spoken in southern, rural Louisiana at the time. 



“The Art of Fiction” – 1884


P.918 – “It goes without saying that you will not write a good novel unless you possess the sense of reality; but it will be difficult to give you a recipe for calling that sense into being.”


As a realist, Henry James argues in “The Art of Fiction” that good fiction and good literature come from direct experience and the observation of life as it really is or was. By portraying life through a realist perspective, James seeks to also portray the truth of life in his writing, without glossing over or idealizing the everyday experience. 


Key Terms


Realism in the 19th century, a movement in literature that seeks to record, capture, or represent life as it actually happened. Realist literature uses representative characters in their dull, everyday lives through the writing of an impartial author or artist. Regionalism is a subset of Realism. 


Daguerreotype - one of the earliest photographic processes developed by Jacques Daguerre in 1836. (One of the many new technologies concerned with capturing and preserving life as it really is - ties in with the trend of Realism).


Analogue - an analogue recording device records something as it actually happened by measuring physical reactions. (I.E. film photography works because the light photons bounce off an object and are filtered through a lens and projected onto film and then this image is futher projected onto light-sensitive paper). 

Comments (5)

vjackso said

at 6:44 pm on Jan 24, 2010

if any one wants to add another passage, that would be great! or review the summary! jump right in.

SDavenport said

at 9:50 pm on Jan 24, 2010

If someone else aside from Victoria and I wants to add information to the passages that would be great. We have enough passages unless someone thinks another passage is better than the three above. Also there can be more added to the summary :)

vjackso said

at 11:38 pm on Jan 25, 2010

i changed some more stuff in the summary because it was way over the word limit. also fixed some grammar and syntax stuff.

Brian Croxall said

at 6:14 pm on Jan 28, 2010

This set of notes is a generally good start to this assignment. I very much like your summary paragraph about "The Storm" and that you point out that Calixta's enjoyment of sex is perhaps as shocking as the adultery and its lack of consequences is. You cover the connection between technology and realism well, although I miss a more accurate definition of analog (but perhaps that's just because I really like the technology stuff). The main thing that I would say about the summary is that it just feels like your language could be tighter, more focused. It's a little loose at the moment.

You chose three good passages from the day's activities. And you cover what is to be said about those passages well. But again, your language could be much tighter. In the second passage, for example, you seem to be repeating yourselves as you discuss the passage first as defying expectations re: morality and then defying expectations re: how men act in such situations. Can you find a more deft way to explain these insights? I'm also a bit surprised that you didn't take the chance to mention regionalism when Calixta says, "Bonte!"

You've picked your terms well. Again, you've done well with this start. Please make sure that each of you is doing his or her fair share of the work.

Brian Croxall said

at 4:26 pm on Feb 5, 2010

I've just reviewed your updated notes from last week. Victoria made some good edits to tighten the language of the summary and of the second passage, as well as adding the definition of analog. There are still some copy errors in the notes, and I believe that you could have continued tightening the language in a few places.

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