Essay on The Importance of Point of View in Kate Chopin’s Fiction

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The Importance of Point of View in Kate Chopin’s Fiction

The impact of Kate Chopin’s novel, The Awakening, on society resulted in her ruin, both literary and social. Reviewers called it vulgar, improper, unhealthy, and sickening. One critic said that he wished she had never written it, and another wrote that to truly describe the novel would entail language not fit for publication (Stipe 16). The overwhelming condemnation of the entire book rather than just Edna’s suicide seems surprising in light of her successful short story career. The themes that Chopin explores in her novel are present in both Bayou Folk and A Night in Acadie, her short story collections published before The Awakening, and the other short stories she
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They use it to understand the limitations the narrator may have on his/her ability to interpret the events of the story. In Chopin’s short stories, the sex of the primary point of view character often determines the level of sentimentality at which readers rank the story. When I say “sentimentality,” I mean the level of romance the relationship and ending seem to have.[1]

When the male point of view dominates, the stories have a fairy-tale quality that reflects Southern notions of chivalry. For example, in “In and Out of Old Natchitoches,” Alphonse Laballiere seems to have stepped straight out of a Sir Walter Scott novel when he throws “a plank over a muddy pool for [Mademoiselle St. Denys Godolph] to step upon” (Chopin, Bayou Folk). In “A No-Account Creole,” Placide views Euphrasie as a golden goddess who sets him trembling, arouses jealousy in him, and drives him to serve her (Bayou Folk). These two incidents, out of many similar ones in Chopin’s short fiction, exemplify the code by which many of her male characters live and view the world. Eugene Genovese, in his essay “The Chivalric Tradition in the Old South,” notes the importance of honor, reputation, and physical prowess to Southern men and women. Of course, this does not mean all women and men followed such archaic rules or even believed women were objects to wrap in cotton wool (as Chopin’s own marriage to Oscar Chopin illustrates). In fact, Nina Baym points out

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