The Awakening, and Other Stories

By Kate Chopin; Pamela Knights | Go to book overview

GLOSSARY
In a complexly divided society, racial classifications designated the fraction of a person's African ancestry, labelling them legally and socially as non-white (Chopin uses only the most common terms): griffe: a person of three-quarters African descent (i.e. three black grand-parents; one white); 'griffe' women were particularly renowned as midwives; mulatto, mulatresse: a man or woman with one-half African ancestry (i.e. one black and one white parent), a term derived from the word for a mule, supposedly reflecting a belief in the sterility of half-breeds; octoroon: a person of one-eighth African descent (i.e. one black great-grand-parent); quadroon: a person of one-quarter African descent (i.e. one black grandparent).The following translations (from varieties of French, unless otherwise specified) gloss individual words and short phrases not explained in context in the notes, and the brief exclamations Chopin scatters liberally throughout her fiction.
accouchement(s) confinement(s), bonjour (bonjou') good day child-birth
á jeudi until Thursday
á point just right, done to a turn.
ami, amie friend (male and female); en bon ami just as a friend
armoire wardrobe, cabinet, with rows of shelves for keeping clothes
atelier artist's studio or workshop
au revoir good-bye
banquette pavement, sidewalk (from word for 'bench', so named because the wooden platforms were elevated above the mud of the streets)
(ma) belle (my) beauty (female)
bien (b'en) well (bien!) fine! good!
bonne house maid, servant
Bon Dieu! Good God!
bonjour (bonjou') good day
bonté! (or bonté divine!) goodness! gracious! good heavens!
bougie candle
buffet sideboard
cabriolet two-wheeled carriage, with a hood, light enough to be drawn by one horse
chambres garnies furnished rooms (see also note to p. 303)
cher, chéri, chérie dear, darling (form varies according to gender)
chiffonier a chest of drawers, or low cupboard
comme ça like that
comment! (all-purpose exclamation) really! what!
comment ça va? how are you?
les, convenanccs the proprieties, expected social forms

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