Short Story #317: Charlie by Kate Chopin

Title:  Charlie 

Author:  Kate Chopin


Book cover to The Awakening and Selected Stories of Kate Chopin, by Kate Chopin and edited by Barbara H. Solomon; Signet Classics, 1976. Charlie arrives later for her morning lessons, even though her other six sisters have made it on time.  The governess scolds her for being late and lets her know that she will be talking to her father for being late again.  She is ejected from the study with her sisters, so she goes outside to write. Charlie is rougher than her sisters and regularly does things that are unladylike.  However, she does have a skill for writing and is also well-adored by her father.  After some writing, she visits the black servant family, Charlie is greeted by her father who is curious about why she isn't where she is supposed to be.  He is upset by her answer, but she feels there's nothing she can do about the tension between her and the governess.  Later, she visits her neighbors to partake in some gossip and a walk in the woods.  The family she visited sends along a child to keep an eye on her in the woods.  After Charlie confronts him, the two begin to chat and Charlie reveals the small gun that she carries with her.  She shows off her shooting skills in front of the boy but then one of her shots hits someone else in the woods. The wound was not fatal and it is by chance that the man, Mr. Walton, was making his way to Charlie's father anyways.   Charlie brings him home to her father and her father is rather angered by what has occurred.  However, Mr. Walton's care takes priorities.  They become friendly with Walton but in the aftermath, Charlie's father informs her that she is being sent to Seminary in New Orleans.  She has some challenges in adjusting to Seminary as she does not fit in with her peers in many ways.  She has trouble finding her stride and figuring out what to do.  However, she does begin to grow with this challenge and become more of an adult than previously.  Much of this comes with her being recognized for her skills in writing, particularly verse.  Her family pays visits and sees her changing.  Her father visits her after some time and is delighted to see the changes in her.  Some time after this wonderful experience between father and daughter, he became quite sick.  Sick enough that many family members including Charlie come home to visit because they believe he may be dying.  Why family members are trying to figure out what to do in terms of caring for him and returning to normality, Charlie insists that she will be by his side until he is healed or otherwise.  During this ordeal, they receive news that her older sister is to marry Mr. Walton, the man Charlie shot.  Charlie is upset by this for she did like him and takes off on the horse for some time.  When she returns, she talks with her father who is recovering to ask what he thought of her giving them her most prized possession, her dead mother's diamond ring.  The discussion that follows finds Charlie in charge of the farm since her father is too sick to care for it any longer and he believes that she has finally become the adult that he wanted her to be.  


It was an enjoyable story.  In some ways, it feels like the path that Edna should have gone in The Awakening.  That is, to avoid tragedy and the things that were not for her, this seems like the life that would have been her own.  In fact, I think that's one of the things I like about this tale is that Charlie ends up in a better space and seems happy with her life.

Short Story #316 out of 365
Rating:  3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  11/01/2014
Source:  The Awakening and Selected Stories of Kate Chopin, by Kate Chopin and edited by Barbara H. Solomon; Signet Classics, 1976.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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