"The Storm" showcases two similar yet different wives and mothers. Both are involved with the same man, both seem invested in caring for their families, and both dream of the time, not so long ago, when they were single and free. Both seek fulfillment away from their husbands: one finds pleasure in sexuality, while the other finds relief in its absence. The portraits of these two women remind us of each woman's individuality while simultaneously underscoring the traditional, domestic position of late 19th century femininity. In other words, even though a lot of women were stuck in the same domestic rut during this time, that didn't mean they were all the same, like Stepford wives.
Questions About Women and Femininity
- What do you make of the fact that Calixta seems to reclaim her "maidenhood" by being with Alcée, while Clarisse seems to reclaim it by being free of him?
- Based on the descriptions of Calixta's and Clarisse's lives, what do you think it would have been like to be a wife and mother during the time period of "The Storm"?
- What role does sexuality play in defining Calixta and Clarisse as women?
- What connection does this story seem to be making between being a mother, a lover, and a wife?
Chew on This
Both women feel stifled by their marriages and long to once again be single and free.
Even though she is both a wife and mother, Calixta feels the most feminine when conducting her brief affair with Alcée.