Oscar Chopin, the Husband
NARRATOR: By all accounts, Kate and Oscar Chopin had a good relationship despite his business difficulties. A friend told a biographer that "Kate was devoted to Oscar and thought him perfect." Oscar may have been very accommodating to Kate because he didn't want to be like his own father. Victor Jean Batiste Chopin was reportedly an unusually harsh man. Scholars say Victor came to the United States with the intent of finding a rich woman, marrying her and taking her land. And, that's exactly what he did. But, he didn't stop there.
SOUNDBITE: Emily Toth/Louisiana State University
He treated his slaves cruelly. He also treated his wife cruelly. He beat her. He wouldn't let her go out of the house. He broke her piano. He wouldn't let her go to church. He, was what we know now as a classic portrait of a batterer. He isolated her from friends and family and made her dependent on him in every respect.
SOUNDBITE: Jean Bardot/American College (Paris)
Well he may not have been cruel as described by many people in the parish, but he was rather hard, as I said a shrewd businessman. He was rather hard in the family with his wife and son, since Oscar had to run away and moved to his aunt's at the age of 16. And we have an interesting detail. His mother was not able to visit him because the father didn't want the mother to visit the son. So she had to borrow a carriage from her mother to be able to visit her son in Cloutierville. And, at the age of 18, he moved away from Natchitoches and went to St. Louis.
NARRATOR: Oscar was apparently just the opposite with Kate. He admired her for her spunk and independence.
SOUNDBITE: David Chopin/Kate Great-Grandson
She scandalized everybody. She smoked. She walked around by herself at nighttime. Oscar was open about what she did, how she was, and so forth, and quite accommodating I think, there was nothing stultifying about his relationship with her. I think he gave her free reign and it must have been a great relationship.
NARRATOR: There are reports that relatives warned Oscar to try to control his wife more but, he simply told Kate what had been said and the couple laughed about it. Now back to how Kate Chopin carried on after the death of Oscar.