Chopin is more popular now that when she was alive.  She is also one of the best Louisiana writers. Born in St. Louis, she moved to Natchitoches Parish, then to New Orleans. She writes from a women's point of view.

"At the 'Cadian Ball"

Arcadian ball or Cajun ball is a story about a party and what happens to some of the people that go to the party. The story centers on Calixta. The Spanish was in her blood. She is able to get away with things since she is not from the area. Prairie People--people that live in the marsh, they herd cattle, and trap for a living.

Bobinot and Alcee are both after Calixta for different reasons. Bobinot wants to marry Calixta. Alcee wants to sleep with her Calixta. She prefers Alcee because he looks better and has money. She figures out that she has no future with Alcee and goes back to Bobinot.

Clarice is another female character in the story. Alcee wants to marry her because she has money and is a cousin. He wants to marry her to keep the money in the family. He finds Calixta the kind of girl he wants to date. Clarisse is the one he wants to marry. Alcee uses Calixta against Clarisse. Alcee does this because Clarisse won't marry him right away. He used Calixta to scare her into deciding to chase him and marry him out of fear of another woman getting him. Once he gets what he wants he dumps Calixta. She then goes back to Bobinot. He takes her back not knowing what had happened .

There is a history between Alcee and Calixta but they left it hanging. There was no sex but they thought about it.

"The Storm"

In the next story it is 5 years later.

Bobinot and Calixta are married and have a four-year-old child. Bobinot and his child are caught in town at a store by a storm. Alcee is forced to take shelter Calixta's house during the storm. During the storm they have sex. The storm is an excuse for them to have sex and is a metaphor for sex (the more the storm rages the more their passion rages). The storm is an excuse for them to have sex because it will prevent anyone form interrupting them. The storm offers them the opportunity, and they have the means. Their motive is that they wanted to live out their fantasies of sleeping together.

The thing that prevented them from having sex 5 years earlier is the reputation that they would have gotten if they would get caught.

In Assumption he had kissed her and kissed and kissed her; until his senses would well nigh fail, and to save her he would resort to a desperate flight. If she was not an immaculate dove in those days, she was still inviolate; a passionate creature whose very defenselessness had made her defense, against which his honor forbids him to prevail.

Alcee would have been dishonored if he had taken advantage of a virgin and marriage is not possible, and Calixta would have been labeled as a harlot. The way they would have been caught is that Calixta would have probably gotten pregnant and everyone would know that she had been messing around. Now that she is married she is able to mess around and not worry about getting caught, because if she gets pregnant from Alcee everyone will think that the child belongs to Bobinot. They have no intention of leaving their spouses.

European cultural expectations:

Daughters will remain pure and hidden till marriage then they can sleep around.
It is better to sleep around before marriage and not after.
When Bobnot got home and was worried because they were dirty. Calixta was happy to see them because she was guilty.

Alcee wrote his wife a letter that night and told her not to hurry back and stay another month longer.

Notes on "Desiree's Baby"

Notice how the title foreshadows the story.  "Desiree's Baby" sounds innocent enough as the title at the beginning, but we realize its significance when Armand denies the baby as his.

He denies the baby when he realizes that his son is obviously partially black in ancestry (which is what everybody but Desiree and Armand recognizes immediately).  Given the extreme prejudice of the era, such a reaction is not surprising, particularly given Armand's violent temper.

Armand blames Desiree for the mixed ancestry of the baby because she was an orphan, her parentage unknown.  Her complexion was fair, but she could have still passed on a dark complexion to her son.  The fact that Armand is darker than her makes no difference to him, but is imporant to the story, leading to the final irony -- it was Armand's mother who was black.  His father had concealed the fact by living with her in Paris & moving back to Louisiana without her.