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Kate Chopin was a forgotten American voice until her literary reputation was resuscitated by critics in the 1950s Today her novel The Awakening 1899 the story of a sensual determined woman who insists on her independence is widely read and highly honored a feminist work which was decidedly ahead of its time Born Katherine OFIaherty into an upper-middle-class family in St Louis she married Oscar Chopin when she was twenty and moved to her husbands home in Louisiana In the ten years that she resided in Louisiana she was aware of and receptive to Creole Cajun black and Indian cultures and when she later came to write fiction she would incorporate people from these cultures in her work especially her short stories When her husband died as a young man Kate Chopin returned to St Louis with her six children Financially secure she began writing fiction as best she could while rearing her children She is a good example of an American realist someone trying to represent life the way it actually is lived and she acknowledged her debt to the contemporary French naturalists Emile Zola and Guy de Maupassant Knowing that Mrs Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husbands death It was her sister Josephine who told her in broken sentences veiled hints that revealed in half concealing Her husbands friend Richards was there too near her It was he who had been in the newspaper office when intelligence of the railroad disaster was received with Brently Mallards name leading the list of killed He had only taken the time to assure himself of its truth by a second telegram and had hastened to forestall any less careful less tender friend in bearing the sad message She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same with a paralyzed inability to
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