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At the 'Cadian Ball (Kate Chopin)

Kate Chopin's slight short story, "At the 'Cadian Ball," is one of her early local color stories set in the Bayou of Louisiana in its use of place, dialects and characters. The story "is more local color than realism," and its conclusion "more like poetic justice than realism" (Arner 2). A sequel to the story, "The Storm," written four years later, fills in some of the gaps in "Cadian Ball." On its own, however, the earlier story contains the themes that inform Chopin's work: the needs and desires of women are not met by the traditional roles prescribed to them in the late 19th Century. The theme of escape from tradition and authority was dominant in the work of Chopin, "a woman who lived before her time, whose stories might be seen as a vindication of the rights of women, and an author whose literary works were controversial and unappreciated until many years later" (Gilbert 12).

"At the 'Cadian Ball" reflects the cultural values of the late 19th Century Acadian, Creole and Cajun society which limited women's expression of their sexual needs. The reigning social conventions demanded that women conform to the traditional, constricting roles assigned to them by the male-dominated society. Freedom from these conventions proved hard to come by, and none of the characters in the story, male as well as female, achieve true personal freedom. The men, however, had rights denied to the women, and so the possibilities for freedom from convention existed for them. Chopin's story is essentially a study of the yearning for female emancipation. The plot centers on a Cajun Ball and what happens to four of the people at the ball whose lives become set by the end of the night. A simple plot, it is the subtext that gives the story its significance.

The plantation characters in 'Cadian Ball" are "easy going...high spirited, superstitious passionate, and volatile" (Toth xiv). This is in contrast to the upper-class characters who are portr...

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At the 'Cadian Ball (Kate Chopin). (2000, January 01). In Retrieved 08:20, February 20, 2017, from