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Kate Chopin: In Search of Freedom 3

Coming Out and Marriage, by Floramaria Deter

By Floramaria Deter

Chopin: Complete Novels and Stories

Chopin: Complete Novels and Stories

Library of America
At age 18, Kate graduated from the academy and made her social debut. Although she preferred to spend time alone reading instead of attending socials all night, Kate was a natural conversationalist. She followed the traditional custom of debuting, but she wanted to escape from the parties and the social expectations. She wrote in her diary, "I dance with people I despise ... return home at day break with my brain in a state which was never intended for it ... . I am diametrically opposed to parties and balls; and yet when I broach the subject-they either laugh at me-imagining that I wish to perpetrate a joke; or look very serious, shake their heads and tell me not to encourage such silly notions." Her diary entries also show a very moody woman exhausted of the hectic pace of debuting that took her privacy and freedom away from her. During this time, she wrote her first story, "Emancipation: A Life Fable," a short story about freedom and restriction.

On June 9, 1870, Kate marries Oscar Chopin and moves to New Orleans. Little is known the details of Oscar and Kate's romance. What is known is that her marriage to Oscar was not antithesis of what she demanded out of life. She did not sacrifice her spiritual freedom by marrying him and continued to violate all the rules of expected female behavior. She rolled and smoked Cuban cigars. Her clothes were flashy and stylish, yet always memorable and pretty. After moving to Cloutierville, Louisiana in 1879, she rode horses in addition to taking walks, but if she was in a hurry, she had a reputation of jumping on her horse and galloping away through the middle of town. She did what she wanted to do and refused to conform to tradition for tradition's sake.

Kate and Oscar had all six of their children within the first ten years of marriage. Kate allowed their children as much freedom as possible and permitted them to enjoy their youth with playing, music, and dancing. Although Kate loved her children, motherhood often consumed her so she traveled to familiar places such as St. Louis and the Grand Isle as much as possible. Her children came with her since family and friends would be available to watch them.

When Oscar could no longer work as a cotton factor in New Orleans, Kate, Oscar, and the children moved to Natchitoches Parish. They settled in Cloutierville, Louisiana where Oscar opened a general store and managed nearby land. A few months before his death, Oscar suffered from fever attacks. The country doctor misdiagnosed the illness and without the proper treatment, Oscar died on December 10, 1882.
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