Fat Books & Thin Women

Story Sundays: Kate Chopin’s “Ma’ame Pelagie”

Story Sundays is a weekly feature at Fat Books & Thin Women. Always short stories, always ones available online for free.

The title character of Kate Chopin’s “Ma’ame Pelagie” lives much of the story in the literal shadow of her old home, in the figurative shadow of her past. This home is the center of Pelagie’s life, the raising of funds to restore it her life’s work, and the outside world intrudes only with the arrival of her niece: “The coming of La Petite, bringing with her as she did the pungent atmosphere of an outside and dimly known world, was a shock to these two, living their dream-life.” Despite La Petite’s entrance to her world, the past remains far more alive to Pelagie than the present, and the story considers her relation to time and memory and the ways in which Pelagie preserves her memory. Pelagie will ultimately give up the physical monument to that past for her sister’s sake; but does that bring Pelagie’s own life any more into the present day?

Read “Ma’ame Pelagie” online

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Ellen, I really like your new design! Great work. Also, the only Chopin I’ve read was The Awakening in high school. I remember I liked it a lot. This short story sounds like a good one too. I like themes that explore time and memory.

Comment by Brenna

Yeah, I can’t get over my attraction to stories that are about memory. I think Chopin’s stories are pretty mixed, but when they’re good they’re good.

And thanks for the commenting on the layout. I’m not sure what I think about it but I can’t get rid of my attraction to the magazine format, so…

Comment by Ellen Rhudy

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