Calm Before The Storm Essay

The Two Storms in Kate Chopin’s story “The Storm" Essay

613 Words3 Pages

In Kate Chopin’s story “The Storm” it talks about love and lust. It speaks of two kind of storm that occurs. These two storms I find to be the central part of the story, and is being represented as a symbol within the story. The first storm is the most obvious one that Bibi and Bobinot are faced with. The second storm isn’t that visible for it involves Calixta and Alcee. Just as like most storms they come and pass.
As the story begins we find Bibi and Bobinot on their way home. They were at Friedheimer’s store; they notice the dark clouds flowing with evil intentions to the west. As its howl pierced the sky they decided to stay until the storm had passed. As Bibi worries for his mother, Bobinot reassures him that she will be…show more content…

Calixta notice Alcee at the gate, she had not seen him very often.
This is the other storm that was brewing outside; it was calm before the storm. Just like the first storm Calixta fails to notice this at first. The dark storm starts to rupture outside her home. Another one starts to builds up within Calixta’s home as she allows Alcee in.

Calixta worries frantically about Bibi and Bobinot as the storm outside becomes more aggressive and making an uproar. Alcee notices her worrying and he attempts to comfort her. As Chopin shows us how the second storm starts to build up:
“Calixta put her hands to her eyes, and with a cry, staggered backward. Alcee’s arm encircled her, and for an instant he drew he close and spasmodically to him” (196).
Calixta doesn’t realize what was going on because she was still concerned for Bobinot and Bibi.
Alcee reminisce with her where they more intimate with each other. Calixta was too late and got caught in this second storm, which she later did not mind at all. The lust Alcee had for Calixta conquered him. The storm outside was abrupt and intense. Alcee and Calixta attention was diverted from this storm. Calixta was lost in this second storm enjoying this one more. She seem to not to stress over Bibi and Bobinot safety anymore. As Chopin illustrates to her readers:
“They did not heed the crashing torrents, and the roar of the elements made her laugh as she

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– Is the apparent calm of the West a signal of latent instability?
– Increasing symptoms of instability in West as proposed by Nassim Taleb
– Wider public and mainstream press believe “experts” have everything under control
– Black Swan approaches and we may be experiencing “the calm before the storm”

Western countries are increasingly displaying symptoms of instability as described by Nassim Taleb, the author of the The Black Swan, ever since the publication of an essay written with Gregory Treverton entitled “The Calm Before the Storm.”

The piece was published in the January/February edition of Foreign Affairs – the official magazine of the Council on Foreign Relations.

In their essay, Taleb and Treverton highlight five characteristics that could help identify states that – while appearing stable on the surface – may actually be quite fragile.

“Fragility”, they write, “is aversion to disorder”. Under this criterion they view Italy as a stable state.

The five characteristics they view as major factors in instability are:

– centralised decision making,

– lack of economic diversity

– high levels of debt and leverage

– absence of political variability

– lack of track record in surviving shocks

“Italy, paradoxically, shows no signs of fragility. It is effectively decentralized and has bounced back from perennial political crises. It also experiences a great deal of harmless political variability, cycling through 14 prime ministerial terms in the past 25 years.”

With regards to centralised decision making the article points to the autocratic Arab states which while appearing strong on the surface quickly succumbed to the “Arab Spring” uprisings before degenerating into chaos – albeit compounded by external influences.

“Although centralization reduces deviations from the norm, making things appear to run more smoothly, it magnifies the consequences of those deviations that do occur. It concentrates turmoil in fewer but more severe episodes, which are disproportionately more harmful than cumulative small variations.

In other words, centralization decreases local risks, such as provincial barons pocketing public funds, at the price of increasing systemic risks, such as disastrous national-level reforms.”

“On the other hand, Switzerland – often viewed as a model of stability -is composed of multiple smaller semi-autonomous states.”

Other states they look at are Middle Eastern, African and China.

Recent events would suggest that EU is increasingly centralising authority and decision making in Brussels. Indeed, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras recently stated that Greece’s creditors had made it clear that bailed-out countries had no right to self determination.

In terms of economic diversity, the authors warn of the risks associated with over-reliance on a particular sector such as tourism and on a single commodity or industry. The cite Botswana’s over-reliance on the diamond trade and Japan’s car manufacturing sector.

Over-reliance on any sector has obvious implications. “Specialization makes a state more vulnerable in the face of random events.”

An African country that is completely reliant on cocoa production, for example, is vulnerable to the predations of large confectionary corporations who can demand unreasonably low prices leading to hardship, poverty and civil unrest.

The U.S. is slightly vulnerable in this regard having relocated the bulk of its manufacturing sector overseas in recent years although it remains well diversified.

The entire western world is incredibly vulnerable to the third factor – over-indebtedness – which is described as “the single most critical source of fragility.”

Since the 2008 crisis – caused by excessive debt –  global debt has increased by one third. In May the McKinsey Institute reported that total global debt was now around $199 trillion – $27,204 for every person alive today.

The U.S. is particularly vulnerable in this regard. It’s total Federal debt is over $18 trillion while its GDP is estimated to be $17.71 trillion. At the same time its unfunded liabilities are estimated to be a more than a staggering $100 trillion – a sure source of instability as these payments come due.

According to the authors, political variability contributes to stability “by responding to pressures in the body politic”. While western leaders like to promote the notion of political pluralism it is clear from the consistently low levels of participation of voters at election time that the people who live with the consequences of their decisions that the public do not generally see credible alternatives.

It becomes increasingly apparent that decisions are made by lobby groups and vested interests only to be rubber stamped by governments of varying persuasions.

How the fifth characteristic pertains to the western world is more difficult to identify.

What constitutes a major shock and what constitutes a survival of a shock? Can the Western world be said to have experienced a major shock in the post war period prior to the 2008 crisis? Can they be said to have survived that shock when in reality they appear to be on life-support? It is true that the powers that be have done a remarkable job at averting the day of reckoning but does that constitute a track record of surviving shocks?

The authors believe that exposure to any one of these factors is a symptom of instability. They add that exposure to multiple factors presents an exponential increase in risk.

The wider public and the press seem unjustifiably complacent at this time. It seems likely that the seemingly unending “recovery” is simply the calm before the storm.

The article in Foreign Affairs can be read here

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