Kate Chopin’s Short Story Beyond the Bayou

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The short story Beyond the Bayou by Kate Chopin explores the theme of courage and determination in overcoming fears. The protagonist, LaFolle, suffered a traumatic experience as a child which caused her to isolate herself from the outside world. However, when she is called upon to help a young boy, Cheri, who has been injured, she finds the strength to overcome her fear of crossing the bayou. The importance of courage is highlighted as LaFolle realizes the need to help those in need or to save a life. Ultimately, she conquers her fears and reclaims her identity and freedom, symbolized by watching the sunrise from a different location outside the bayou.

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Courage and determination can help overcome fears as described in Kate Chopin’s short story Beyond the Bayou. Courage is demonstrated by a woman named LaFolle who had suffered a traumatic experience as a child and this fear caused her to close herself off from the outside world. Traumatized by the gruesome sight of her P’tit Maitre covered in blood and black powder caused her to isolate herself. She conquered and overcame her fear which helped her carry Cheri, across the bayou which she had never crossed before. LaFolle had fear in crossing the bayou, but the pain endured by Cheri allowed her to face her fears of the unknown beyond the bayou. Conquering a terrifying ordeal to help someone else, proved to be more important (Chopin,1).

Childhood memories of P’tit Maitre entering the cabin covered with black powder/blood and being pursued frightened LaFolle out of her senses. She never regained her senses meaning this drove her crazy. She did not view the world or people as most others did due to this tragic ordeal. The confidence and courage of a person can be taken if they witness such acts of vengeance. LaFolle was trapped by what is described as unknown regions in the woods. She did not cross the boundaries of the bayou.

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Cheri was the son of P’tit Maitre however LaFolle cherished him as if he was her own child. Keeping family safe and ensuring their well-being is protected can make a person who is scared and nervous be courageous during the most terrifying times. Cheri laying at the edge of the woods with a gunshot wound to the leg sends LaFolle to his aid. LaFolle then has to find the courage to cross the bayou to help the one she cares so deeply for.

The most important reason that courage is important is the realization to help those in need or to save a life. Cheri having shot himself in the leg encouraged LaFolle to make an important decision to face her fears. Reclaiming her sanity and conquering her fears are shown in the end by her sitting on the Veranda steps of a home outside the bayou and watching the sunrise.

Cheri having shot himself caused LaFolle to come to the realization that at some point she has to face her fears and go beyond the boundaries of the Bayou. LaFolle has come to terms with her traumatic ordeal she witnessed and experienced as a child. The constraints which limited her own self identity was eventually broken by LaFolle herself. LaFolle reclaims her identity and freedom and feels powerful as she watches the sun rising from a different location other than the area that was like a prison to her. Her future living in the bayou will no longer be restricted.

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Kate Chopin’s Short Story Beyond the Bayou. (2021, Mar 20). Retrieved from


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