The Importance of Dialect and Names in Kate Chopin's The Storm

The Importance of Dialect and Names in Kate Chopin's The Storm

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The Importance of Dialect and Names in The Storm

 

Kate Chopin is able to put life into her characters in her short story The Storm because she has lived a life similar to that of the people in it.  She was raised by her French Creole mother, which explains her ties to Creole in her story.  She married a wealth New Orleans cotton broker and in 1888 he died.  She was left with no money and six children so she turned to writing as a means to raise them.  The characters in her story depict life in the Cajun area of America and it shows in the nature of their ways.  She does this by giving them real characteristics that can make them seem more real.  Among these characteristics are their names and their dialect.

 

    Chopin's use of Creole names in her story allows the reader to get a glimpse into the life of those living in French Creole areas.  Names such as Bibi and Bobinot aren t common names to most living in other parts of the country.  Because of this, readers are given a chance to read the story believing the characters to be real.  Had their names been common such at John or Eric, the story would become unreal in the sense that it would be difficult for Chopin to make the reader believe that the story takes place in a Cajun-like surrounding.

 

    Furthermore, other names in the story serve as a piece of the story setting as well.  Bibi s wife Calixta is a good example of this as is Calixta s man friend Alcee Laballiere.  Their names alone give you a sense that the story isn t set in just any area.  Though Chopin doesn t ever say where the setting of the story is, but something insignificant like the names can be used to help the reader make his or her own assumptions.  I got the sense that it was set in a Cajun area of the United States due to the French names.  Bobinot and Laballiere are unmistakably French in nature and due to the fact that Cajun areas are heavily influenced by French, Chopin made a setting without ever having to actually say it.

 

    Another way Chopin sets the mood of the story and makes it feel more believable is by giving her characters a Cajun slang in their conversations.

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  Their language has the same sort of effect on the story as their names did.  The language gives the readers a chance to make the assumption of where in fact the setting of the story takes place.  In fact, the language gives the aspect of true Creole life more so than the names can.  The language gives the characters depth and more life like characteristics.

 

    A good example of how their dialect is line by Calixta when she is speaking of the storm.   If this keeps up, Dieu sait if the levees goin  to stan  it!   That whole sentence is full of personality and character.  Her use of French words in her English is an obvious example of where it is she comes from.  In few places would one be able to hear language such as this.  Chopin does a great job incorporating such detail into her work.  Without language such as this it would be hard for one to take such an interest in the story.

 

    Another way the dialect influences the story is that it gives the characters a stereotyped image.  Upon reading their lines, I was given the impression that they were perhaps less educated than others who read the story.  Perhaps it is unfair to say this based on their dialect because that may just be the dialect of all Cajuns, educated or not.  I cannot honestly say whether it is or not but I m sure others who read the story have the same thoughts.  Their conversations with one another can give the impression that they don t have all the amenities of others.  The way the characters speak can give the idea that they perhaps live in a shack with even chickens in the yard and nothing but the basics to live on.  All this can be imagined by just reading the words they speak and listening to how they say it.

 

    Things that seem so small in detail such as the names Chopin gives to her characters or the way they speak their lines can easily create a whole new picture in the story such as the time and the setting.  Names such as Bibi and Calixta or speaking in a different tongue makes a story and without them the story would not be complete.  Had Chopin given Calixta an IQ of 140 and put her in the same shack, sewing on the same fabric, the story would not have worked.  Chopin knew this and used her own experiences to her advantage.  It was because of these small details that give her short story such a real feeling upon reading it.  The Storm is a good short story that makes use of the fact that it appears to be real in order to win over the readers.

 
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