Kate Chopin: In Her Own Words

“Even as a child she had lived her own small life all within herself. At a very early period she had apprehended instinctively the dual life—that outward existence which conforms, the inward life which questions.” Description of Edna Pontellier in The Awakening.

“There would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.” Description of Mrs. Mallard in “The Story of an Hour.”

“So the storm passed and every one was happy.” The closing sentence of “The Storm.”

“She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.” Description of Edna Pontellier in The Awakening.

“‘It means,’ he answered lightly, ‘that the child is not white; it means that you are not white.'” Armand Aubigny in “Désirée’s Baby.”

“She was not going through any acute mental process or reasoning with herself, nor was she striving to explain to her satisfaction the motive of her action. She was not thinking at all. She seemed for the time to be taking a rest from that laborious and fatiguing function and to have abandoned herself to some mechanical impulse that directed her actions and freed her of responsibility.” Description of Mrs. Sommers in “A Pair of Silk Stockings.”

“I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself.” Edna Pontellier in The Awakening.

“That she was married made no particle of difference to Gouvernail. He could not conceive or dream of it making a difference. When the time came that she wanted him,—as he hoped and believed it would come,—he felt he would have a right to her. So long as she did not want him, he had no right to her,—no more than her husband had.” From “Athénaïse.”

“She wanted to reach out her hand in the darkness and touch him with the sensitive tips of her fingers upon the face or the lips. She wanted to draw close to him and whisper against his cheek—she did not care what—as she might have done if she had not been a respectable woman.” Description of Mrs. Baroda in “A Respectable Woman.”

“The way to love a woman is to think first of her happiness.” Wallace Offdean in “A No-Account Creole.”

“Perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life.” Edna Pontellier in The Awakening

“A person can’t have everything in this world; and it was a little unreasonable of her to expect it.” From “The Kiss.”

“When the girl looked up into her face, with murmured thanks, Fedora bent down and pressed a long, penetrating kiss upon her mouth.” Description of Fedora in “Fedora.”

“But the beginning of things, of a a world especially, is necessarily vague, tangled, chaotic, and exceedingly disturbing. How few of us ever emerge from such beginning! How many souls perish in its tumult!” From The Awakening.

“In entering upon their new life they decided to be governed by no precedential methods. Marriage was to be a form, that while fixing legally their relation to each other, was in no wise to touch the individuality of either; that was to be preserved intact. Each was to remain a free integral of humanity, responsible to no dominating exactions of so-called marriage laws. And the element that was to make possible such a union was trust in each other’s love, honor, courtesy, tempered by the reserving clause of readiness to meet the consequences of reciprocal liberty.” From “A Point at Issue!”

“If ever asked to give her opinion of divorce, she might have replied that the question being one which did not immediately concern her, its remoteness had removed it from the range of her inquiry. . . . With the prejudices of her Catholic education coloring her sentiment, she instinctively shrank when the theme confronted her as one having even a remote reference to her own clean existence.” Description of Thérèse Lafirme in At Fault, Kate Chopin’s early novel.

“I leave this package to the care of my husband. With perfect faith in his loyalty and his love, I ask him to destroy it unopened.” From “Her Letters.”

“He would keep clear of the maelstroms of sordid work and senseless pleasure in which the average American businessman may be said alternately to exist, and which reduce him, naturally, to a rather ragged condition of soul.” Description of Wallace Offdean in “A No-Account Creole.”

“As she glanced up at him the fear in her liquid blue eyes had given place to a drowsy gleam that unconsciously betrayed a sensuous desire.” Description of Calixta in “The Storm.”

“I dance with people I despise; amuse myself with men whose only talent lies in their feet, gain the disapprobation of people I honor and respect; return home at day break with my brain in a state which was never intended for it; and arise in the middle of the next day feeling infinitely more, in spirit and flesh like a Liliputian, than a woman with body and soul.” Entry (when Kate was eighteen, and not yet a Chopin) in her Commonplace Book, 1868–1869.

“The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. . . . The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.” From The Awakening.