Chopin's major work, a novel, was published in 1899. Since she was
well-established as a national writer of note, it was reviewed by all major
national critics, who universally condemned it as "shocking" and
"immoral." It is the story of a young matron's gradual awakening
to her own sexual and individual "being," and longing for an
independence that society would not permit her.
A very young, inexperienced girl marries an older man, but finds married life
disagreeable. Missing her own home, and especially her brother, she runs away
to New Orleans. After discovering that she's pregnant, she re-evaluates her
A former convent girl marries well and moves to Paris, but ultimately enters
the world of the demimondaine. She spends a few happy days each year
at the convent until the Mother Superior finally learns of her questionable
life in Paris.
A Pair of Silk Stockings
A woman living in near-poverty receives some money unexpectedly, and is torn
between essentials for her children and rare indulgences for herself.
The writer admires all those who live life energetically, without needing to
reflect and analyze. As for her, she must study "the moving
procession," and calls this "sinking by the wayside."
A Respectable Woman
Mrs. Baroda is a bit provoked that an old friend of her husband's will visit for
a few weeks. She treats him with disdain at first. Gradually this changes.
Surprised at herself, she looks forward longingly to a future visit.
Beyond the Bayou
A large, gaunt black woman had been frightened literally "out of her
mind" as a child during the war by the sight of her master, bloodied and
covered in mud and debris, escaping from pursuing troops. She limits her life,
never leaving the wide yard surrounding her cabin, half-circled by a bayou in
front and a forest behind. Years later, she is called upon leave her sanctuary
when her former master's sonher favorite visitorshoots himself while
Désirée, an abandoned baby, is raised by a fine family. The son of
a planter who lives nearby marries her. When their child's features hint of
mixed blood, Désirée disappears with the child, and the father
orders everything related to his life with her burned.
For the thirty yearssince the warMa'ame Pelagie has cared for her
sister Pauline and for the land and the burnt-out ruins of what was once the
finest plantation house on Côte Jouyeuse. Pelagi's aim is to rebuild it,
until a niece visits and states she must leave them, for their lifestyle is
too circumscribed. Pelagie struggles to relinquish the past and move on.
A young lady is courted by a rich but unattractive man when a friend of her
brother kisses her casually. After the rich man withdraws his courtship, the
girl seeks him out with hopes of marrying him for his money while maintaining
her brother's friend's love.
After finding an engraved locket on the neck of a dead Confederate soldier,
a priest returns the locket to the girl to whom it belonged. She resigns
herself to her beloved's death.
The Story of an Hour
Knowing of Mrs. Mallard's heart trouble, friends try to soften the shock of
her husband's death in a train wreck. She retires to her room, weeping, as
her emotions quickly change and conflict, only to be faced with the ultimate
La Belle Zoraïde
Zoraïde, a beautiful slave of mixed blood, is cherished by her mistress,
who has picked out a husband for her. But Zoraïde loves Mézor, a
black slave. Refusing the proposed marriage, Mézor is sold out of
state, and fights to keep her child, becoming known as "Zoraïde,