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Kate Chopin: A Re-Awakening:Enhancements - Literary Ranking & Character Treatment

Literary Ranking & Character Treatment: How She Rates Among the Greats

Kate Chopin Enhancements: Literary Ranking & Character Treatment

How She Rates Among the Greats


NARRATOR: Kate Chopin was an author in a field with many authors. It will be up to scholars, teachers and students to decide whether Chopin's writing is worthy of their time for decades and centuries to come.

SOUNDBITE: E. F. Genovese/Emory University
I think she may last better than Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Welty and Flannery O'Connor are a little more difficult. They are both very good. I put her in, probably in a league with them as the leading southern women writers of the 19th and 20th century, notch below Faulkner, in part because of volume, in part because of range of subject matter.

SOUNDBITE: Barbara Ewell/Loyola University (New Orleans)
Chopin's prose is unusual for the period. It's very impressionistic. It's very clear. It doesn't linger over scenes, and yet, it, it doesn't fail to give us very vivid images of the context of her characters, of the surroundings of her characters. But, it never lets those surroundings overtake the character. It's always her. It's always the individual, the self that she's trying to explore.

SOUNDBITE: Thomas Bonner/Xavier University of Louisiana
I think that she belongs to the group of writers of realism and naturalism of the 1890s in American literature, Crane, Garland, Norris, Dreiser. She competes favorably with the power of women writers like Willa Cather, Sarah Orne Jewett for example. Her works have more of a forward-looking stance than a backward looking stance. In brief, Kate Chopin is a major writer.

Literary Ranking & Character Treatment: How She Shook Up Her Characters

Kate Chopin Enhancements: Literary Ranking & Character Treatment

How She Shook Up Her Characters


NARRATOR: Kate Chopin is often complimented for creating characters who suddenly dig deeply into themselves and discover feelings that not even they knew existed, yet they are very natural feelings. This talent comes into play in stories like The Awakening and "A Vocation and a Voice." In The Awakening, Edna suddenly realizes how unhappy she is in her marriage, while frolicking on the beach with Robert, a man she is much attracted to�despite his reputation as a ladies' man.

SOUNDBITE: Barbara Ewell/Loyola University of New Orleans
They are playing. They are like children, they are on the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, and letting down one's reserves, letting one's self get in touch again with the physical world, and its spontaneity. Its physical demands open up to Edna places in her heart and in her soul she had lost contact with, maybe had never known were there. That, then opens her at least to other dimensions of herself and that happens consistently in Chopin's fiction, that natural world which children are often associated with brings people to a new kind of awareness of selfhood and connection with others.

NARRATOR: In "A Vocation and a Voice", a young teenager makes a similar discovery about his manhood after stumbling upon a naked woman�a woman he had been around for days, if not weeks. But, he's only looked upon this woman in a casual way.

SOUNDBITE: Barbara Ewell/Loyola University in New Orleans
They're clearly in the context of nature and the descriptions of her against a very intensely, natural and physical backdrop and so it's hard really to distinguish what, rather it's very clear that Chopin is offering, telling us that sex is natural, physical responses are natural.