Chopin: Complete Novels and Stories
Library of America
Throughout her life, Kate Chopin, author of The Awakening and short stories such as "A Pair of Silk Stockings," "Desiree's Baby," and "The Story of an Hour," actively searched for female spiritual emancipation, which she found and expressed in her writing. Her poems, short stories, and novels allowed her not only to assert her beliefs for herself, but also to question the ideas of individuality and autonomy during the turn of the century. Unlike many of the feminist writers of her time who were mainly interested in improving the social conditions of women, she looked for an understanding of personal freedom that questioned conventional demands of both men and women.
Additionally, she did not limit her exploration of freedom to physical emancipation (i.e., husbands controlling wives through the traditional expectations of motherhood), but also intellectual autonomy (i.e., women having political opinions taken seriously). Kate's writings provided her with the means to live how she wanted-both mentally and physically-rather than play the role society expected of her. She did not start her professional writing career until later in life, but the lessons learned and the events experienced gave her the unique insight that provided material for her stories.