‘Fedora’ by Kate Chopin


Fedora by Kate Chopin, 1897

The magic trick:

Totally shifting the possibilities of the story’s romance in one sentence

Well, isn’t this something? A lesbian romance published in 1897? Wow. Romance isn’t the right word. Awakening might be more fitting for a Chopin story.

Fedora, the protagonist in the piece, awakens to the true source of her attraction to Young Malthers. The reader awakens to this shift in one brilliant sentence: “The suggestive resemblance of the girl to her brother was vivid, poignant even to Fedora, realizing, as she did with a pang, that familiarity and custom would soon blur the image.” That familiarity and custom would soon blur the image. What an amazing phrase. It’s a remarkable twist in this particular story, but it’s also a wonderful way to consider many, many subtle but remarkable changes. And that’s quite a trick on Chopin’s part.

The selection:

Fedora reached the station a little before train time. It was in a pretty nook, green and fragrant, set down at the foot of a wooded hill. Off in a clearing there was a field of yellow grain, upon which the sinking sunlight fell in slanting, broken beams. Far down the track there were some men at work, and the even ring of their hammers was the only sound that broke upon the stillness. Fedora loved it all—sky and woods and sunlight; sounds and smells. But her bearing—elegant, composed, reserved—betrayed nothing emotional as she tramped the narrow platform, whip in hand, and occasionally offered a condescending word to the mail man or the sleepy agent.


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