Elizabeth Fox Genovese of Emory University shared in a PBS interview that “She [Kate Chopin] was very important as one of the earliest examples of modernism in the United States or, if you wish, the cutting edge of modernism in American literature” (PBS – Interviews). Kate Chopin published At Fault, her first novel, in 1890 and The Awakening, her last novel, in 1898 (Guilds 924). During these years Chopin wrote numerous other works and most, like At Fault and The Awakening, centered around upper-middle class Creole or French women involved in womanly uncertainties; such as, extramarital affairs, acceptable behavior in society for females, duties as a wife, responsibilities as a mother, and religious beliefs. Chopin was an extraordinary woman, and no indication was made, during the investigation of this research paper, reflecting her having regrets regarding her position as a wife or mother. This document is an attempt at comparing the issues the main characters experienced and presenting Chopin’s unique skill in writing about the culture she observed during her years of living in Louisiana. The tragedy of this author’s existence is that during her life the literary world did not recognize such exceptional skill.
This author was born Katherine (Kate) O’Flaherty Chopin in February of 1850 to a father of Irish descent and a Creole (French settlers of the southern United States, esp. Louisiana) mother (Guilds 293). Chopin was a bicultural mixture of strength. Due to measures beyond her control, she grows up in a life surrounded by strong willed women. These ladies were passionate women Chopin loved and respected; her great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother. They each added their individual spice of life to a brew of pure womanhood. Thus, seasoning a woman that would become one of the most influential, controversial female authors in American history. Kate Chopin created genuine works exposing the innermost conflicts women of the late 1800’s were experiencing. The heroines of her fictional stories were strong, yet confused, women searching for a meaning behind the spirit that penetrated their very souls.
Living a normal youth, Chopin immediately suffers the loss of her father in 1855, at the young age of five. This is later followed by another extremely difficult year in 1863 when she loses two people she loved very much, her g...
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This site, based on a television presentation by the PBS, gives further information on Chopin. In contains a transcript of the television presentation, a chronology of major events in Chopin’s life, interviews with Chopin’s grandson, David Chopin and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese of Emory University, and shares links on the author.
Petry, Alice Hall. “Critical Essays on KATE CHOPIN”. G. K. Hall & Co., New York, 1996.
Alice Petry Hall gives readers of Kate Chopin’s works an exceptional overview of this author’s life, sharing Chopin’s understanding of fundamental issues based on critical essays, interviews, criticisms, and Chopin’s personal notes.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries. Documenting the American South: Chopin, Kate. Bayou Folk. Boston, 7 Nov. 2000. New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company; Cambridge [Mass.]: The Riverside Press, 1894. Electronic Ed. http://docsouth.unc.edu/chopinbayou/menu.html
The facilitators of this website have posted Chopin’s Bayou Folk in it’s entirety. This book contains 23 of Chopin’s short stories / essays. It is an exceptional representation of Chopin’s writing and the variety of style she accomplished.
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