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23 August 2014
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Kate Chopin
"At the
'Cadian Ball"

Four Kates

From the short story: "The belle was Calixta. . . . All the men agreed she was at her best to-night. Such animation! and abandon! such flashes of wit."

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Reading Kate Chopin's "At the 'Cadian Ball" online and in print
"At the 'Cadian Ball" characters
"At the 'Cadian Ball" time and place
"At the 'Cadian Ball" themes
When "At the 'Cadian Ball" was written and published
Questions and answers about "At the 'Cadian Ball"
Accurate texts of "At the 'Cadian Ball"
New items: Articles and book chapters about "At the 'Cadian Ball"
Selected books that discuss Kate Chopin's short stories

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Reading Kate Chopin's "At the 'Cadian Ball" online and in print

You can read the story online, although if you're citing a passage for research purposes, you should check your citation against one of these accurate printed texts.

"At the 'Cadian Ball" characters

  • Bobinôt, an Acadian farmer; he appears also in Chopin's short story "The Storm"
  • Calixta; she too appears in "The Storm"
  • Alcée Laballière, a Creole planter; he appears in "The Storm" and "Croque-Mitaine" and is mentioned in "In and Out of Old Natchitoches"
  • Clarisse, goddaughter of Alcée's mother
  • Bruce, servant of Alcée
  • an African American at the ball

"At the 'Cadian Ball" time and place

The story takes place in the late nineteenth-century at the Louisiana plantation of Alcée Laballière, a few hours (in the 1890s) by train from New Orleans, at the nearby Friedheimer's store, and at the 'Cadian ball.

"At the 'Cadian Ball" themes

You can read about finding themes in Kate Chopin's stories and novels on the Themes page of this site.

When Kate Chopin's "At the 'Cadian Ball" was written and published

The story was written between July 15 and 17, 1892, and published in Two Tales (Boston) on October 22, 1892. It was reprinted in Chopin's collection of stories Bayou Folk in 1894.

You can find complete composition dates and publication dates for Chopin's works on pages 1003 to 1032 of The Complete Works of Kate Chopin, edited by Per Seyersted (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1969, 2006).

Questions and answers about "At the 'Cadian Ball"

Q: Did this story become known because it is a prequel to "The Storm"?

A: It certainly became better known after readers discovered "The Storm," and from what we can tell, it was not much read before "The Storm" was published in the late 1960s. But it was, in fact, the first of Kate Chopin's short stories to be reprinted after her death. It appeared in 1921 as one of sixteen local color stories in Short Stories of America edited by Robert L. Ramsay and published in Boston by Houghton Mifflin.

More questions and answers about "The Storm."

Q: Why doesn't Clarisse go to the 'Cadian Ball? And why is she upset that Alcée does?

A: It's a partly matter of social class. Clarisse and Alcée are Creoles, descendants of French or Spanish settlers in Louisiana. Calixta and Bobinôt are Acadians, descendants of French-American exiles from Acadia, Nova Scotia, who were driven from their homes by the British in 1755. Most of the Creoles in Chopin's stories are comparatively wealthy, usually landowners or merchants. Most of the Acadians (or 'Cajuns) in the stories are much poorer, living off the land, farming or fishing or working for the Creoles. Clarisse takes her higher social status as a Creole seriously and thinks Alcée has no business at a 'Cadian ball. "Nice conduc' for a Laballière," she says. She understands, though, that it is common for a Creole man to appear at such get togethers, perhaps in search of a liaison with a 'Cadian woman. It would be unusual for a Creole woman to attend a 'Cadian ball.

Q: I've read an article about "The Storm" that suggests Calixta has some African-American blood. Is that right?

A: No. Her mother is Cuban. Everyone in the community thinks of her as Acadian with some Spanish blood. As the story phrases it, "Any one who is white may go to a 'Cadian ball, but he must pay for his lemonade, his coffee and chicken gumbo. And he must behave himself like a 'Cadian."

You can read more questions and answers about Kate Chopin and her work, and you can email us your questions.

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For students and scholars

Accurate texts of "At the 'Cadian Ball"

The Complete Works of Kate Chopin. Edited by Per Seyersted. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1969, 2006.

Bayou Folk and A Night in Acadie. Edited by Bernard Koloski. New York: Penguin, 1999.

Kate Chopin: Complete Novels and Stories. Edited by Sandra Gilbert. New York: Library of America, 2002.

Articles and book chapters about "At the 'Cadian Ball"

Some of the articles listed here may be available on line through university or public libraries.

Hebert-Leiter, Maria. "The Awakening Awakened." In Becoming Cajun, Becoming American: The Acadian in American Literature from Longfellow to James Lee Burke, 57–78. Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2009.

Kirby, Lisa A. "'So the Storm Passed...': Interrogating Race, Class, and Gender in Chopin's 'At the 'Cadian Ball' and 'The Storm'." Kate Chopin in the Twenty-First Century: New Critical Essays. 91-104. Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Cambridge Scholars, 2008.

Seay, Geraldine H. "Kate Chopin's Source for 'At the Cadian Ball'." Southern Studies 8 (1997): 37-42.

Berkove, Lawrence I. "'Acting Like Fools': The Ill-Fated Romances of 'At the 'Cadian Ball' and 'The Storm'." Critical Essays on Kate Chopin. 184-196. New York: Hall, 1996.

Koloski, Bernard. "The Anthologized Chopin: Kate Chopin's Short Stories in Yesterday's and Today's Anthologies." Louisiana Literature 11 (1994): 18-30.

Sempreora, Margot. "Kate Chopin as Translator: A Paradoxical Liberation." Louisiana Literature 11 (1994): 83-96.

House, Elizabeth Balkman. "The Awakening: Kate Chopin's 'Endlessly Rocking' Cycle." Ball State University Forum 20.2 (1979): 53–8.

Casale, Ottavio Mark. "Beyond Sex: The Dark Romanticism of Kate Chopin's The Awakening." Ball State University Forum 19.1 (1978): 76–80.

Arner, Robert D. "Kate Chopin's Realism: 'at the Cadian Ball' and 'the Storm'." Markham Review 2.2 (1970): 1–4.

Selected books that discuss Chopin's short stories

Koloski, Bernard, ed. Awakenings: The Story of the Kate Chopin Revival Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009.

Beer, Janet. The Cambridge Companion to Kate Chopin Cambridge, England: Cambridge UP, 2008.

For scholars: We seek to make our listings of Chopin scholarship accurate and up to date. If you find a mistake, an omission, or a misplacement, would you tell us? If a listed article is available on the web, would you send us the link? Contact us.

Ostman, Heather. Kate Chopin in the Twenty-First Century: New Critical Essays Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Cambridge Scholars, 2008.

Arima, Hiroko. Beyond and Alone!: The Theme of Isolation in Selected Short Fiction of Kate Chopin, Katherine Anne Porter, and Eudora Welty Lanham, MD: UP of America, 2006.

Beer, Janet. Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton and Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Studies in Short Fiction New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Stein, Allen F. Women and Autonomy in Kate Chopin's Short Fiction New York: Peter Lang, 2005.

Walker, Nancy A. Kate Chopin: A Literary Life Basingstoke, England: Palgrave, 2001.

Koloski, Bernard. "Introduction" Bayou Folk and A Night in Acadie by Kate Chopin New York: Penguin, 1999.

Toth, Emily. Unveiling Kate Chopin Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 1999.

Koloski, Bernard. Kate Chopin: A Study of the Short Fiction New York: Twayne, 1996.

Petry, Alice Hall (ed.), Critical Essays on Kate Chopin New York: G. K. Hall, 1996.

Elfenbein, Anna Shannon. Women on the Color Line: Evolving Stereotypes and the Writings of George Washington Cable, Grace King, Kate Chopin Charlottesville: UP of Virginia, 1994.

Boren, Lynda S. and Sara deSaussure Davis (eds.), Kate Chopin Reconsidered: Beyond the Bayou Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1992.

Perspectives on KateChopin: Proceedings from the Kate Chopin International Conference, April 6, 7, 8, 1989 Natchitoches, LA: Northwestern State UP, 1992.

Toth, Emily. "Introduction" A Vocation and a Voice New York: Penguin, 1991.

Papke, Mary E. Verging on the Abyss: The Social Fiction of Kate Chopin and Edith Wharton New York: Greenwood, 1990.

Toth, Emily. Kate Chopin. New York: Morrow, 1990.

Elfenbein , Anna Shannon. Women on the Color Line: Evolving Stereotypes and the Writings of George Washington Cable, Grace King, Kate Chopin Charlottesville: UP of Virginia, 1989.

Taylor, Helen. Gender, Race, and Region in the Writings of Grace King, Ruth McEnery Stuart, and Kate Chopin Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1989.

Bonner, Thomas Jr., The Kate Chopin Companion New York: Greenwood, 1988.

Bloom, Harold (ed.), Kate Chopin New York: Chelsea, 1987.

Ewell, Barbara C. Kate Chopin New York: Ungar, 1986.

Skaggs, Peggy. Kate Chopin Boston: Twayne, 1985.

Seyersted, Per. Kate Chopin: A Critical Biography Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1969.

Rankin, Daniel, Kate Chopin and Her Creole Stories Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1932.

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boston Special Kate Chopin presentations at the 2014 American Literature Association conference in Washington, D.C., this May
1899 Novel The original cover of Kate Chopin's famous novel, published in 1899.