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Kate Chopin as a Modern Writer

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Kate Chopin as a Modern Writer

Kate Chopin was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1851. She was the daughter of an Irish immigrant who had made his money in retailing. When he died, Chopin was raised by her mother's aristocratic Creole family, descendants of the French and Spaniards who had colonized Louisiana. She was educated in a convent, and, at the age of nineteen, married Oscar Chopin, a Creole cotton broker from New Orleans, Louisiana. Her husband abruptly died in 1883, followed by her mother's death one year later. Her family doctor, Frederick Kolbenheyer, encouraged her to write short stories for therapy and for financial support. Dr. Kolbenheyer was a believer of women having a right to careers, and had recognized Kate's literary style of writing in the letters she had written to him. Since she began her writing career later in life, after the death of her husband and mother, she had personal experience that she drew upon.

Kate Chopin wrote many stories that dealt with women's issues, but unlike many of the feminist writers of her time who were interested solely in improving women's social conditions, she explored personal freedom, both physically and emotionally. She published short stories in newspapers and periodicals, later publishing volumes of her short stories and finally her book "The Awakening". Examples of her short stories include "The Story of An Hour", where she explored a range of emotions that went through a woman's mind when her husband was thought to have died in a train wreck. Within an hour of being told of her husband's death, her emotions had gone from mourning his death to slowly feeling liberated from the burdens of marriage to fantasizing freedom. At the end of the hour her husband appeared, unscathed. It was so shocking that she had a heart attack and died. Racism is explored in the short story "Desiree's Baby", about an abandoned girl, raised by a childless couple, who married a man of wealth and power during times of slavery and racism in the South. After the birth of their son, her husband discovered a letter in the back of a drawer regarding the multi-ethnicity of a baby, which he mistakenly believed was Desiree's and his baby. The letter ironically was about himself and had been written by his mother to his father before her death. Lastly, "The Storm" was about illicit sex and sexual desire during a time in history that did not allow for those thoughts and actions. Her most famous work, The Awakening, was published in 1899, and was considered extremely controversial for its time and was highly criticized. As a result of the criticism, the publisher withdrew its offer to publish a third collection of short stories the following year, after which Kate largely stopped writing short stories because no publisher would buy them.

During the 1920's,

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