This chapter sketches the career of Kate Chopin and then deals with her novels (At Fault and The Awakening) and short-story collections (Bayou Folk and A Night in Acadie). It is argued that she is less original (particularly compared to European women writers) than is commonly supposed and that in some respects her social views were conservative. The chapter illuminates in particular her understanding of races and race relations, as revealed in her short fiction; the often-anthologized story “Désirée’s Baby” is cited in this connection. The very high standing she now has in America thanks to radical feminists is noted, and various exaggerated feminist interpretations of The Awakening are challenged. It is remarked that her writing may endure in the long term because of her excellent depictions of characters and mores in her stories set in the Cane River area.
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