Bus Tour of Kate Chopin's New Orleans
Essay on Kate Chopin's
soon as our tour guide, New Orleans historian and writer Mary Gehman, was on
board we were cruising down St. Charles Avenue in all its splendor with purple
and pink azalea's lining the way. Whatever
discomfort I may have thought I was feeling quickly dissipated as we were
transported back to the New Orleans of Kate Chopin and the 1890s.
stopped at 1413 Louisiana Avenue, the third New Orleans
residence of Mr. and Mrs.
Chopin; their first two homes, one on Magazine St. and another on
Constantinople St., no longer exist. It was fun to sit and stare at the
second story side balcony and wonder how much time Kate Chopin spent in that
spot developing the thoughts and images of the characters that would come to
life in "The Awakening."
that point on, the time transport was complete as the people and places of the
period came to life for us to enjoy while we watched in amazement from the seat
of our bus and hoped that time would pass slowly. The people that had at first intimidated me because of their
credentials provided an immense wealth of information covering Kate Chopin and
turn of the century New Orleans in such a way that I will not soon forget.
saw the homes of Sophie B. Wright and Grace
King whom it was thought were likely to have been known by Kate Chopin.
We learned that New Orleans was the first place in the country to have a
statue of a woman. The statue was
of Margaret Haughery, a landowner in New Orleans, who
was known for being a friend to poor children.
Additionally, we discovered that the state of Louisiana was in fact a
leader in the United States with regard to the right of women to vote and be
gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and insight from the tour of Kate
Chopin's New Orleans the highlight of which might have been comments from Emily
Toth. Emily believes that Edgar
Degas was likely to have been an acquaintance of the Chopin's as her research
has uncovered a striking similarity in the names of relatives and friends of
Degas that all too closely resemble that of characters in "The
Awakening." I am sorry that I
didn't take written notes, however there was the name Emma Pontellion and
someone name Leonce, which are way too close to the names of Edna and Leonce
Pontellier to be coincidental. As
you might expect this discussion took place in front of the
land marked home of Edgar Degas on Esplanade Avenue.
We expected at any moment that Edgar and Kate might step out on the porch
to invite us in for drinks and conversation.
tour ended in the New Orleans French Quarter where after a short walk many of
the tourist dined on cuisine from the period at the famous Tujaque's Restaurant.
I didn't join in on this part, but I am willing to bet that the eats were
tour was fun as well as educational for me and I can't help but wonder what
people will say about turn of the 20th century New Orleans when they reach the
next centennial of Kate Chopin's "The Awakening."
I hope that Kate's home on Louisiana Avenue is still standing and
recognized as a historical landmark and that perhaps even more will be known
about the New Orleans that fostered such rich and lasting contributions to our
p. s. Thank you again Dr. Ewell for another rich cultural experience and for holding the carrot of extra credit out there.
--Content prepared by Todd McKinnon.
Copyright (c) 1999; all rights reserved.
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