"Too strong a drink for moral babies, and should be labeled 'poison'." was the how the Republic described Kate Chopin's most famous novel The Awakening (Seyersted 174). This was the not only the view of one magazine, but it summarized the feelings of society as a whole. Chopin woke up people to the feelings and minds of women. Even though her ideas were controversial at first, slowly over the decades people began to accept them. .
Kate O'Flaherty Chopin was raised in St. Louis in the 1850's and 1860's. Chopin had a close relationship with her French grandmother which lead to her appreciation of French writers. When she was only five Chopin's father, Thomas O'Flaherty died leaving her without a father figure. Eliza O'Flaherty, Chopin's mother, was from there on the head of the household. Chopin grew up knowing that women could be strong and intelligent and that they did not have to be submissive creatures (Skaggs 2). She loved her mother and considered her "A woman of great beauty, intelligence, and personal magnetism" (Seyersted 14). .
Growing up around independent women, however, did not dissuade her from marriage. Her marriage to Oscar Chopin by all accounts was a happy one. Taking on the role of a high society lady as well as wife and new mother, Chopin fit in well with the New Orleans culture. She enjoyed the Louisiana atmosphere so well that most of her writings were based here. Chopin continued living in Louisiana raising her six young children until the sudden death of her husband brought her back to St., Louis (Skaggs 3). .
Oscar Chopin died while their youngest child, Lelia was only three. Soon after Chopin moved her family to St. Louis to be with her dying mother. In the grief of her losses Chopin had to rediscover who she was. This challenge came out in her writing of heroines searching for self-understanding (Skaggs 3). No longer Eliza O'Flaherty's daughter or Oscar Chopin's wife, Kate Chopin was forced to find a new role for herself.