TO CONFORM OR NOT TO CONFORM: CONFLICTS OF MOTHERHOOD IN KATE CHOPINS SELECTED FICTION

Abstract

Author(s): Ali KHOSHNOOD

Kate Chopin was the first genuinely modern American woman writer who aspired to transcend the provincial themes that most women writers of her time employed. Her works are the salient reflections of historical and social context of late 1890s in which she finds the rigid conventions of Creole culture as oppressive and confining women through marriage. She is an avant-garde author who dares to depict the bohemian lifestyle of ‘New Woman’ ideals in her fiction. This article tries to show that the protagonists’ quest for self-determination and self-fulfillment in Chopin’s selected fiction are similar with the ‘New Woman’s visions of the nineteenth century. This study aims to explore the protagonists’ conflicts between individual autonomy and social conformity and shows that each protagonist is torn between her social and familial responsibility and her declaration for needs to fulfill her own emerging desires. It also highlights protagonists’ attitude toward the concept of motherhood and wifehood obligations, freedom, female sense of selfhood and sexuality. In the present study her masterpiece The Awakening, “The Story of an Hour” and “A Pair of Silk Stockings” are to be analysed using feminist perspective. As her stories portray dissatisfied women trapped in unhappy marriages and restricted position as mothers and caretakers of home, my study tries to examine the protagonists’ yearning and struggles to elevate their lot, to fulfill personal desires, to question the institution of marriage, and Victorian motherly responsibilities. This study plans to compare how the protagonists’ struggle for self -fulfillment are manifested through their pursuit of romantic love, freedom and leisure of possession respectively.

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