Kate Chopin
Kate Chopin is a brilliant writer. Her writing career is during the late

1800’s. She lives in a time where women are sexually suppressed and their
opinions are not valued. Her writing holds more in common with our time than the
time just after the Civil War. Although her life was full of death, she still
lived as happy a life as she could by writing in such a bold and daring way.

Kate Chopin was born as Catherine O’Flaherty. She was born July 12, 1850. She
is the daughter of Thomas and Eliza O’Flaherty. Kate’s father, Thomas

O’Flaherty, was born in Ireland in 1805. He came to the United States in 1823.

In 1825 he became a merchant in St. Louis. In 1855 he died suddenly in a train
wreck when she was only four. His sudden death pushed all his family into new
relationships with each other and the world. Thomas’ first wife, Catherine de

Reilhe, married Thomas in 1839. She was a French-Creole girl, who died after
giving birth to their son, George. In 1844, Thomas married Eliza Faris. They had
three children together: Jane, who died at childbirth; Thomas Jr.; and

Catherine, who we know as Kate Chopin. After the father’s death, Eliza had to
cope with being a widow. Kate’s childhood consisted of a widowed mother, and a
widowed great-grandmother. As a child, Kate experienced many deaths. She became
emotionally close to her half brother George O’Flaherty. George was a

Confederate solider during the Civil War and died from typhoid fever after being
released from prison in 1862. After her father and brother’s death, Kate
seemed to have collapsed. She became faintly ill, and it took her two to three
years to recover the traumatizing events of her childhood. These events changed
her permanently which made her very wary. Kate’s great-grandmother, Madame

Charleville, taught her French. In fact, that was the only thing she would speak
around Kate. Madame Charleville would tell Kate stories about the French. Giving

Kate a history lesson about how the French founded the city along the banks of
the Mississippi. Some of these stories were false, but Kate didn’t know the
difference. They were just, "being no more than the scandals of another day"
(Magill 205). In the end, Kate received an altogether unconventional education
from her great-grandmother. Kate began a more conventional education at the

Madames of the Sacred Heart Convent in 1860. There, the nuns taught her
discipline and a respectable academic curriculum. Kate also along with English,
learned French literature as well. Kate began to play the piano at an early age.

"Kitty Garesche recalls Kate being an accomplished pianist with an exceptional
musical memory" (Baechler 68). Kate began her music with her great-grandmother
supervising her piano playing. The great-grandmother would sit patiently with

Kate as she practiced her scales. She done this to teach her the importance of
discipline and technique. During her schooling with the Madames of the Sacred

Heart, the nuns encouraged Kate to continue with her piano playing. "By the
time she reached adolescence, Kate O’Flaherty was an accomplished musician"
(Unger 205). "In June 1868, Kate graduated from the St. Louis Academy of the

Sacred Heart. She then plunged into the fashionable life, and for two years she
was...’One of he acknowledged belles of St. Louis’" (Skaggs 2). After

Kate’s graduation, she emerged from the dark period of her brother’s death,

Kate became a popular young woman. In 1869 she began to smoke, which is highly
unusual for a woman in those days. "For two years Kate lived a life of an
attractive girl in the ‘high society’ (of French Origin) in which her mother
moved" (Kunitz 150). She was greatly fascinated by all the varieties of people
she met in New Orleans."She met aristocratic Creoles, unpretentious Cajuns (or

Acadian: French pioneers who in 1755 had chosen to leave Nova Scotia rather than
live under the British), Redbones (part Indian, part white), ‘Free

Mulattoes’ (so called because they had never been slaves), blacks, and a
cosmopolitan assortment of Germans, Italians, Irish, and Americans" (Baechler

68). Kate would sometimes roam the city unaccompanied. She had a liking to take
a streetcar or just simply walk on foot. There in New Orleans she met 25 year
old Oscar Chopin. She fell in love with this businessman and in 1870 they were
married. She was 19 years old then and the couple were a perfect match and
continued a fairytale marriage from then on. Oscar Chopin descended from a

French-Creole family. He lived on his father’s plantation as a