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Kate Chopin: A Re-Awakening Electronic Library

In this area you'll find "e-texts" of all the works featured in the documentary, including Chopin's novel The Awakening in its entirety. Also included are additional short stories not discussed in the program.

The Awakening
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.

Athénaïse
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 decision.

Lilacs
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.

A Reflection
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 son—her favorite visitor—shoots himself while hunting.

Désirée's Baby
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.

Ma'ame Pelagie
For the thirty years—since the war—Ma'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.

The Kiss
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.

The Locket
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 shock.

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, la folle."

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