Kate Chopin Beyond the Bayou
Kate Chopins work has greatly contributed to a new awakening of feminist issues which had remained untaught and unknown for several decades in her work Beyond the Bayou. This book has greatly contributed to the history of American literature because it is a real story concerning the high cost of literary feistiness. Chopin wrote the book at a time when there where well set conceptions about gender role and the position of the woman in the society. She went beyond these preconceived ideas and social conventions to disfavor them in ensuring the paying off of feistiness.
Betty Butler is a feminist scholar who examines the 19th century society as one which it traditionally male dominated. Women in this society had well set defined roles to perform within the domestic sphere. The womans identity was weighed based on an ability to perform female task such as rearing for the children, washing and taking care of the husband. The woman was domesticated within the household surrounding. This means that the woman was kept away from involving in public sphere away from the home because this was traditionally the role of the man.This paper will examine how Kate Chopin in here test Beyond the Bayou has tried to bring out Betty Butles claim of gender roles in the19th century.
Kate Chopin Book Beyond the bayou has gained much interest among many audience due to its interests in America region and a book considered to be for feminist studies. The book is a collection of fourteen essays which focus on the boundaries and various critical analyses which show the background of the author towards her work. These approaches include new historicist, Marxists approaches feministic stances and also psychological stances.
The book also tells of biographical approach which gives detail of the like of Kate Chopin but in a fictional form Kate and her maternal paradigms such as her grandmother and her mother became widows at a young age and were not remarried. This left the women in struggle and confrontation with other character in the fictional book. The women struggled to fight the difficulties in their way and establish her identity in a society which restricted the women from exploring their potential. They have been restricted only to the roles considered to be for women.
The feminist approach in the book gives itself a strong position within the text. The book shows the critical perspective elements which have incorporated and fused the other sections of the tests with a vibrant approach. The beyond the Bayou shows a clear relationship between the art and the artist; it has a close implication to the work and the writer as well as her role within the social milieu.
Beyond the Bayou can well be understood from the point of view that thesis world is made up of boundaries. Theses boundaries are created by people who create a demarcation. Kate Chopin book is a rich Illustration of the demarcations which have set physical, temporal and psychological boundaries to its characters. These are physical boundaries are revealed metaphorically in the mind state of the characters. For example the water body which is sluggish symbolically represents the real boundary of the authors heroine La Folle. This scene introduces the book to show the symbolic boundary within the physical setting of the book. This opening sets the stage for many other boundaries the main character faces. The term bayou in the title as well as in the introduction chapter which Chopin writes, he bayou curved like a crescent around the point of land on which La Folle’s cabin stood” (175). The bayou represents a boundary which enclosed La Folle. It shows the mental mapping to the readers through the description given by the author.
The bayou or boundaries is further strengthened by Chopin by indicating that La Folles cabin has growth of woods behind it which further encircles the environs of the character. She says ¦..Through the woods that spread back into unknown regions the woman had drawn an imaginary line, and past this circle she never stepped. This was her only form of mania. (175).
The physical boundary looks like an imaginary line which the characters have in their minds. La Folle’s experience is shaped while the readers read this story. There is a blur line between the psychical and physical boundary which is a point which the main character, La Folle, cannot function and go beyond it because she is afraid of crossings this boundary set with the world she is in (2). The authors goes on to state the negative impact which this boundary has through the figurative revelation of the enclosed field and its barrenness and this creates finds that the wood behind her cabin being one of the strangest things in her life.
The white masters house is a total contrast of La Folles cabin. This shows a deliberately opposed landscape helps creates a cultural context. This represents a real physical boundary, barrier and distance between the homesteads which are close together. The cabin is located just near the bayou and La Folle as one of the inhabitants is separated from the main house and enclosed near the bayou. Consciousness individualism is another theme in this short story which serves in reinforcing decisiveness within the landscape of the story. This individual aspect is seen in La Folle internal struggle and her deep fear of the unknown. It is only at the time of crisis after hearing the shooting of her masters vision that she discovers her own ability and independence. La Folle is reclaims her liberty which is features on the storys title Beyond the Bayou that she triumphs at the end of the story.
There is a close relationship between the work of Kate Chopin with Betty Butlers argument that women of the 19th century were mainly set within their social roles within the home setting. Though Chopins short story is not about the homestead roles of the main character, La Folle is also trapped by what people of her as an insane woman and her inner fears about the woods beyond. She is a woman who has undergone tragic past experience in her childhood which affected her psychologically. She is trapped in her world in the cabin making her a pitiable character that has lost her identity but seen by the loss of her true name Jacqueline (1). Also she is trapped by her fear to reason and explore behind the woods which creates a boundary which is self reinforced and limits her both mentally and physically.
It is only at the end of the story that the boundary setting changes through Cheri’s accident which made here confront her fear to cross the barrier of the bayou and the social barrier of her enslaved existence in the cabin from the homestead owners. The rising of the sun the day after symbolizes the breaking of the bayous imaginary borderlines which had long constrained La Folle.
Chopins massage is that the world has well set social constrains which limits one from having self identity. Patriarchy is an example of this boundary which can only be broken down when women confront their fears and go beyond them. This is why the Title beyond the Bayou is relevant to this short story.
Chopin K (1895) Beyond the Bayou, University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center.
On February 7, 2011
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