Kate Chopin

Picture of Kate Chopin

Who: Kate Chopin, an American writer of short stories and novels who is considered one of the first feminist authors of the 20th century

Why She Dazzles: She wrote stories about intelligent women who explored their sexuality, particularly in The Awakening, a haunting tale about a woman unfulfilled by her mundane role as a wife and mother in a male-dominated society. She also expressed the realities of a woman as an individual with wants and needs.

Why You Need to Know Her Today: Kate went against the current standards of ladylike behavior when she wrote about female sexuality and unhappiness in a society that celebrated women who raised children and didn’t work. Kate was ahead of her time because her exploration of female independence wasn’t celebrated until years later.

What She Would Say—Because She Wrote It Then: “She wanted something to happen—something, anything; she did not know what.”

Picture of multi-colored Swarovski earrings
Kate lived in the vibrant city of New Orleans where she gathered material for her stories that she published later in her life.

What She Would Wear to Mardi Gras Tonight: Cascading earrings with rainbow crystals that she bought herself to celebrate her own career. When Kate became a widow at 32, she was left alone to care for her six children. She started writing for local media in her hometown of St. Louis, and achieved national success with her short stories about New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou. A few must-reads to add to your list: The Yellow Wallpaper, Désirée’s Baby, At the ‘Cadian Ball, and A Pair of Silk Stockings. I promise you’ll get goosebumps.

Picture of a card that features a lady kissing the moon
“I would give up the unessential; I would give up my money, I would give up my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself. I can’t make it more clear; it’s only something I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me.”— Edna in “The Awakening”

What She Would Send to Her Friend: In The Awakening, her main character Edna Pontellier searches for a greater meaning to her domestic life and contemplates her unorthodox views on femininity and motherhood under the moonlight. Kate used symbolism to convey her characters’ ideas and characteristics, and the moon represented mythical power and sexual awareness.

Picture of Magnolia Plantation in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana
Several of Kate’s stories were set in north central Louisiana, many in Natchitoches, where plantations, including Magnolia Plantation, were built in the center of Creole culture.

Where She Would Instagram: Louisiana. Many of Kate’s stories took place in the parish of Natchitoches, where she lived with her husband before his death. The city of Natchitoches is the original French colony in Louisiana and the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase. The city retains its French-Creole charm in its architecture and gardens, and is known for its and numerous plantations located along the Cane River.

Tweet This: #DKY Kate Chopin’s famous story “The Awakening” was deemed immoral and “poison” for women during her time, but she is now considered a pioneer of female empowerment in American literature for her work #anewlady

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