Kate Chopin’s Writing Style ✍️

Kate Chopin was a celebrated American author of the late 19th century who wrote some of the most critically acclaimed works of her time. With accomplishments such as The Awakening and “The Story of an Hour,” Chopin has earned a permanent place in the literary history of the United States. 

Kate Chopin

(1850-1904), American

Kate Chopin’s writing style is one of the most important reasons that her novels and short stories have become as popular as they are today. Her work is marked by a unique realism and matter-of-fact style that brings her protagonist, many of whom are women, into stark clarity.

Although her best-known novel, ‘The Awakening,’ was condemned as vulgar and morally corrupt by critics, today, its style, and the style used in the majority of her short stories and her other novel, ‘At Fault,’ is regarded as some of the best books in the history of American prose writing.

Use of Dialect 

Kate Chopin was a master of dialect. She was highly skilled at capturing the speech patterns, nuances, and idioms of the people of her time. Her use of dialect allowed her to create vivid and authentic characters that brought her stories to life. 

Her stories often featured dialogue from ethnic groups in Louisiana. This gave her writing a certain flair and realism that was often missing in the works of her contemporaries. In addition, Chopin often used slang and idioms to give her characters more texture and personality. 

Use of Contextual Details

Kate Chopin is well-known for her use of contextual details in her literary works. By drawing on the culture, dialects, and stories of her native Louisiana, Chopin creates vivid settings and characters that bring her stories to life.

Chopin often uses contextual details to capture the uniqueness of southern Louisiana. In many of her short stories and novels, she writes about Creole culture, plantation society, and African American folktales. Through her use of local color, she paints a detailed portrait of Louisiana’s landscape, from its architecture and terrain to its flora and fauna.

Chopin also brings the area’s dialects to life through her writing. She captures the way Louisianans speak with an attention to detail that creates a sense of authenticity in her work. Through her use of the region’s vernacular, readers can better understand the characters’ personalities and social environment.

Chopin also uses regional sayings and folklore in her stories. She often weaves old Louisiana stories and superstitions into her narratives, creating a sense of magic and mystery that captivates readers. By incorporating these elements into her work, Chopin gives readers a unique window into southern Louisiana and its culture.

Stream of Consciousness 

Kate Chopin was a master at using the stream-of-consciousness writing style to convey a wide range of emotions. She used this technique to show characters’ thoughts and feelings in their most intimate moments, allowing readers to gain a better understanding of her characters.

In her novel ‘The Awakening,’ for example, Chopin uses this technique to show the character of Edna Pontellier’s inner thoughts and feelings. Through Edna’s stream of consciousness, we can see her grappling with questions about identity, purpose, and freedom. Readers are also able to understand her struggles as she wrestles with her newfound sense of self-awareness and independence.

By using this method, she is able to give readers an insight into the often complex thoughts and emotions that are so often hidden away. Her characters are allowed to express themselves in ways that go beyond the traditional narrative structure, giving us a more nuanced view of their worlds.

Use of Sensory Details 

Kate Chopin had a unique and effective way of using sensory details to convey the emotions of her characters. Her work was often noted for its vivid imagery and descriptions, allowing readers to truly feel like they were in the story. She would use descriptions of sights, smells, tastes, and textures to draw readers in and help them connect with her characters on a deeper level.

For example, one quote in ‘The Awakening,’ the protagonist Edna is having an emotional crisis while on vacation. Chopin uses detailed descriptions of the beach and sea to illustrate Edna’s feelings. For example: 

The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude. 

Through the use of sensory details, Chopin helps readers understand what Edna is feeling at that moment—a sense of calm and longing as she contemplates her life choices.

Themes and Subject Matter 

Her recurrent themes include marriage and divorce, everyday life in Louisiana and surrounding states, and identity. Her characters are known for following paths that society disagrees with or has trouble understanding. Many contend with oppressive relationships and unachievable societal standards and struggle with depression and even suicide.

Her work is perhaps best known for contending with the struggles that women faced during the 19th century. Some of her works, including ‘The Awakening’, were censored and condemned for her depiction of independence-seeking women who found joy in the arts, sex, and breaking away from confining relationships with men and motherhood.

These parts of her novels and short stories take a degree of inspiration from Kate Chopin’s own life and her coming-of-age influences. After her father died, she was raised by three independent single women, her mother, her grandmother, and her great grandmother; all of whom were widows, and all of whom wanted to provide Kate with a degree of education that other young girls did not receive.

Once married, by all accounts, Kate Chopin’s relationship with her husband, Oscar Chopin, was a happy one. She appears to have not faced the same degree of depression and emotional turbulence that her best-known protagonist, Edna Pontellier, did in ‘The Awakening.’ Nor did she seem to strive for independence as Louise Mallard does in Chopin’s ‘The Story of an Hour.‘ But all of her relationships, no matter how they compared to the normal aspects of 19th-century society, were influential on her writing style. 

Influence of Guy de Maupassant

In part, Chopin’s short stories and novels were inspired by Guy de Maupassant. He was a French author, born in 1893, who is remembered today for his 300-some short stories and six novels. He also wrote three travel books and a volume of poetry. His short story ‘The Dumpling‘ is usually considered his best. 

His work dealt with middle-class life in a style that Chopin often replicated. Brooke has been described as naturalistic and realistic. He was interested in depicting the consequences of human behavior and the outcomes of daily life. His characters encountered realistic problems that often verged on impolite according to the literary standards of the day. This is also something that Chopin dealt with throughout her career. 


What is Kate Chopin’s writing style? 

Kate Chopin’s writing style is realistic and direct. Her matter-of-fact prose is also interwoven with beautiful depictions of the natural world and emotions. 

What is Kate Chopin known for? 

Kate Chopin is known for writing about female protagonists dealing with the ideological expectations of the 19th-century United States. But she also wrote about life in the American south more broadly. 

Who was Kate Chopin? 

Kate Chopin was a 19th-century author who is regarded as one of the most important writers of her lifetime and in the history of American literature. She is often cited as having published the first examples of early feminist literature in the United States. 

Emma Baldwin
About Emma Baldwin
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues on Book Analysis.
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