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A Night in Acadie by Kate Chopin

A Night in Acadie (1897)

by Kate Chopin

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A Night in Acadie (1897) are 21 more short stories from Kate Chopin, again treating with life in rural 19th century Louisiana. They can be read as a companion piece to ‘Bayou Folk’, though they’re probably best read separately to break it up a little. On the whole, these stories are stronger, and you can see her progression as an author. As in her other work, dialog is written out as it sounded, which can be a little tricky to understand at times, but it’s not done out of meanness for her poor characters, who are in general treated with dignity and respect. My favorite stories:

‘A Night in Acadie’ – the first story is the title story to the collection and one of its longest, it has a couple of young people meeting each other at a ball, where tensions rise because other hearts are involved.

‘Athenaise’ – another relatively long story about a woman who is unhappy in her marriage; it has a different outcome than her masterpiece ‘The Awakening’ (1899) but presages it. I like how fleshed out it was, and the maturity of the writing. It also clearly indicates some of the constraints women were under at the time; as Chopin puts it, “The day had not come when a young woman might ask the court’s permission to return to her mamma on the sweeping ground of a constitutional disinclination for marriage.”

‘Regret’ – about a childless unmarried woman who only realizes her love for kids after she’s had to care for five rambunctious children for a couple of weeks.

‘A Sentimental Soul’ – about a woman shopkeeper who falls in love for a married man who comes in for a daily paper, confesses her sin to a priest and thereafter does her best to stay away from him, and then after he’s dead, tends to his grave and reveres a picture of him; sentimentality winning out over morality.

‘Odalie Misses Mass’ – about a young girl who misses church to care for a doddering old woman who mistakes her for someone from her younger years.

Chopin occasionally says disparaging to Indians or Blacks that is jarring to our ears 100+ years later, but in general it’s clear she embraces a multicultural, multiethnic world, and in these stories has given us a little window into it. ( )
1 vote gbill | Apr 6, 2016 |
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