As a storm approaches, there is a sense of electricity in the air that makes us feel alive because we know that when the storm climaxes, there will be no control. However, once the storm passes, everything is back to normal. The craziness is gone, and the sun shines once again, and everything seems brand new. This is passion. Kate Chopin parallels a natural storm and the unexpected, overwhelming emotional storm between two people in her short story, "The Storm." She uses symbolism to depict that the passions of people are just as unpredictable and stunning as the frenzy of a storm.
The symbolic use of the storm helps to make the characters and their feelings more powerful and exciting to the reader. The storm enhances the reader's senses and also illuminates the actions and emotions of the characters. The story opens with the description of an approaching storm. It tells us that Bobinot "calls the child's attention to certain somber clouds that were rolling with sinister intention from the west, accompanied by a sullen, threatening roar" (112). Bobinot and his son, Bibi, are stuck in town because of the storm. They worry about Calixta, wife and mother, because she is home alone.
We recognize Bobinot's concern and love for Calixta when he buys her a can of shrimps because she is very fond of them. The reader is now concerned about her and the storm. She quickly becomes aware of the storm and goes about preparing for it. While she is outside getting Bobinot's clothes, Alcee approaches. Here, we are given the first hints that another type of storm may be approaching, when the story tells us "she had not seen him very often since her marriage, and never alone" and that "his voice and her own startled her as if from a trance." (113) This shows that Calixta is not only concerned about the storm outside, but also, the one inside. We now know that these two have a romantic history.
Throughout the story we see that Calixta and Bobinot have a good marriage. Chopin shows that Bobinot is a good husband and that he cares for Calixta. He is very concerned with Bibi's appearance on the way home. He exclaims, "My! Bibi, w'at will yo' mama say!" (115) Then he cleans the mud off of himself and Bibi because he doesn't want to upset Calixta. Calixta shows concern for their safety when they return. She doesn't fuss at them as Bobinot expects.
Rather, she hugs Bibi and feels Bobinot to see if he is dry. Bobinot had composed apologies and excuses all the way home, but they died on his lips when she did this. They have a good marriage and they seem to be content with their lives. It is when the storm rages outside and Calixta becomes overwrought with concern for her family that the passion between her and Alcee begins to grow.
Just as the storm approaches and then becomes fierce, so does the zealous, passionate craving between the two. She is in his arms and he kisses her and he reminds her of Assumption. She remembers, "he had kissed her and kissed and kissed her" (114). And now that passion is not just rekindled; it is set completely on fire.
We see this when "they [do] not heed the crashing torrents, and the roar of the elements [make] her laugh as she lay in his arms" (114). They no longer show concern about the dangers of the storm or the safety of her family. Another storm has taken them over. The storm outside climaxes and so does the stormy passion between them. It is evident why this storm between them happens.
Although both of them seem to be content in their marriages, there isn't any passion between them and their spouses. Alcee's wife makes this evident when she says, "their intimate conjugal life was something which she was more than willing to forego for a while." (116) There is no evidence of passion in Bobinot and Calixta's marriage. Now that the "growl of the thunder [is] distant and passing away" (115), so is the moment between them. Both storms arrive rather quickly and they both end in the same manner. The rain ends and outside everything is glowing as "the sun [is] turning the glistening green world into a palace of gems" (115). So it is, within the lives of Calixta and Alcee.
Bobinot and Bibi return, and she exhibits nothing but satisfaction that they are safe. This is not what Bobinot expected, and he is surprised. The family sits down to eat and enjoy themselves. It appears that the sun that is shining outside is also shining inside, as they laugh loudly and together.
Not only did the storm and sudden passion affect Calixta, but it also affected Alcee. At home, he writes to his wife in a letter that is full of tender solicitude. He tells her not to hurry back and that he realizes their health and pleasure is most important. Both Calixta and Alcee are apparently content in their respective marriages. They love their mates. But they also know that what happened between them did not affect their marriages.
In this story, we have two people who do not experience very much passion in their marital relationships. We also learn that a natural storm of this magnitude had not happened there in well over two years. Is that coincidence? I think not. Chopin places very subtle hints in every single line of this story that show how passion builds, erupts, and must reach satisfaction, just like a storm of nature.
We need this emotion just as we need happiness, sadness and anger. After this emotion is satisfied, we are able to see our lives in a new light. Whether right or wrong, this is passion.