Kate Chopin And Going Against Norms Of Society

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Kate Chopin On a steamy Saturday morning, the exhibits of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 sat waiting for the fingers of eager patrons to browse through their items. Kate Chopin, a daily visitor to the fair that summer, came despite the damp ground and humid air to enjoy the festivities of the day. Because of her declining health, Chopin returned home that day tired, but insisted that the fair was the best thing for her. By the middle of the night, though, she was suffering from a severe headache, bad enough for her to call for her son Jean. When he arrived, she was already unconscious and her brain was hemorrhaging uncontrollably. Around noon on Monday August 22, 1904, she died and ?was buried two days later in Calvary Cemetary?(Ewell, 5).

The events the weekend before Chopin?s death showed that she enjoyed the beauty and simplicity around her. The fair, being the last thing she went to, left her content and happy. Throughout Chopin?s life, she seemed to always be doing what made her happy, instead of conforming to the restrictive life of the late 1800?s. Through her actions and her writings, Kate Chopin went against the norms of society and paved the way for free thinking and writing for women.

-2 ?Born in 1950 to an Irish-French family in St. Louis, [Katherine O?Flaherty] grew up in a household of women? (Howard, 1). When Kate was five, her father was one of the seventeen men who died ?in a spectacular railroad disaster during the ceremonial opening of the Gasconade Bridge? in November, 1855 (Howard,1). With her father dead, her mother, Eliza who was a widow at the age of 27, along with her grandmother and great-grandmother raised Kate to speak French, learn piano, and think for herself. Kate was influenced by her grandmother Victoria Verdon Charleville who ?knew the intimate details of the men and women who courageously accomplished the settlement of the trading post.? Kate?s great grandmother also had stories of her own to tell, mostly about ?La Salle, Hennepin, Marquette and others who had made exploration of the country? (Rankin, 13). Even at a young age, ?Kate herself became St. Louis?s ?Littlest Rebel?? by tearing ?down the union flag from the front porch when the Yanks tied it up there.? Kate avoided arrest only ?by the kind, timely interference of a neighborly physician.? Her family were Southern sympathizers and her half-brother George from her fathers? first marriage, slipped past the Union and joined the Confederate Army. ?George was captured and exchanged, only to die of typhoid fever in Arkansas in his way back to his regiment? (Ewell, 7). Soon after his death, Kate?s grandmother Mme. Charleville died on January 16,1863.

-3 These people were a great loss to twelve year-old Kate who already was feeling alone due to ?the wartime absence of her close friend Kitty Garesche? who was one of Kate?s classmates at the St. Louis Academy of the Sacred Heart. During her education at the Sacred Heart, Kate was a natural reader and writer with a vivid imagination having grown up with the colorful stories from her Creole grandmother and great-grandmother. Kate?s grandmother ?had the greatest influence on the girl?s mind and heart and life. She had determined to arouse the child?s curiosity and not let it be unsatisfied? (Rankin, 28). Under their supervision and control, Kate ?learned to face all questions coolly and fearlessly- and grew self contained calmly possessed, and an enigma to her immediate elders. Neither vanity nor self-consciousness were a part of her nature? (Rankin, 35). Kate?s grandmother?s theories for her education were distinctly unique for her day.

Though she did like parties and balls to get dressed up and go to, they did not consume her life. Kate once said, ? I am a creature who loves amusements; I love brightness and gaiety and life and sunshine. But is it a rational amusement, I ask myself, to destroy one?s health, and turn night into day?? so she did not take up her whole life...
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