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Kate Chopin’s Use Of Symbolism

Kate Chopin was one of the feminists of her time; she grew up in a well-off family and was educated during her time. Her views as a woman were always distant ahead of her stint. She wrote many short stories, and in most of her works, she talked about topics that she considered important to her, like women’s right to be independent. It was in an era when women were expected to uphold a given code of conduct in society.

It was a time when sexual desires were only associated with men, and women were not expected to have sexual desires. Shirley Jackson is another woman with the same characteristics as Kate (Chopin, 17). She also wrote several short stories, and in her writings, she portrayed a range of ideas, and both of them employed different literary styles in their writings. This paper seeks to argumentatively analyze symbolism as used by the two authors.

Kate employs symbolism in the short story, The Storm, which is a symbol of the chaos experienced by Calixta as the storm rages. Alcee’s visit unexpectedly comes when the storm appears. Calixta, having significantly been occupied at the sewing machine, is taught the moral of being a responsible wife right before Alcee’s visit. It is at this point that old-fashioned feelings are aroused by the contact between their bodies (Chopin, 23). Comparatively, Shirley also portrays a sharp display of symbolism just from the name of the short story, The Lottery. Almost everything in her work is symbolic. The lottery is used to symbolize many things in this short story, but the primary symbol of the lottery in the whole story is the unquestioned traditions. The lottery is used to signify cultures and traditions ranging from important ones like the Christmas trees to more pragmatic ones like racism and sexism, which, up to date, are still problems (Gale, 5). Unlike Kate’s representation of storm by an act, Shirley represents her lottery with culture.

The next symbolism in Kate’s work is the adulterous act that is about to take place between Calixta and Alcee. At the window, when Calixta and Alcee looked out, lightning struck a chinaberry tree in Calixta’s yard. This event symbolizes the implication of sexual energy between them. Bolt lightning and Chinaberry tree unmistakably denote Alcee and Calixta’s merger sometime back. On the other hand, in Shirley’s book, the other symbolism is the method of execution. The lottery again symbolizes society as the protagonist, and execution is done through stoning. This symbolizes the execution culture referenced back to Jewish times.

The last symbolism in Kate’s book is Alcee Laballiere and Caxlixta’s modest families. In the book, Bobinot walks barefooted to Friedheimer while Alcee is horse riding. Bobinot’s barefoot is a clear representation of poor living style, while Alcee’s horse shows how wealthy and powerful they are. On the other hand, Shirley uses the lottery box as a symbol of the members of the town. Many people cannot trace the real box, but most of them are certain that the new box is made of makeup from the last one (Gale, 9). The box, therefore, is used to symbolize the members of the society who have lived for ages with the new generations coming up to replace the old generations even though the culture continues. Symbolism, as we can see from the analysis of the two authors, has been used to create a good understanding by the readers and as well to create an image of what is happening in the context. Kate and Shirley exploit the use of symbolism to ensure their books are not only entertaining but also enticing to the readers. The analogy is significant in short stories as they bring soothing and eager sensations as you read a book. Literary elements like symbolism enable authors to express their feelings in their writing.


Chopin, Kate. Kate Chopin: The Complete Novels and Stories. Book House Publishing, 2016: Pp 17-25.

Gale, Cengage Learning. A Study Guide for Shirley Jackson’s” Charles.” Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016: Pp 5-15.



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