Therese Lafirme Essay

Therese Lafirme: An Example of the American Spirit


According to historical information, the United States of America has been in existence for several centuries. During this period, the nation has developed diverse environments in which its people co-exist. America tops the list as the world’s most powerful country. For this reason, there are various characteristics which most of the persons living the US exhibit. Bravery and need for freedom appear to the majority of the people as the core values that hold the country together. However, several qualities exist that an individual should possess to be an American.

The citizens are proud of these traits and attribute them to being raised in a proper environment. These features contribute to the uniqueness of the nation. Furthermore, various values exist that individuals have to possess in order to qualify as American people. When faced with challenging times, they maintain their sense of pride and confidence. In various instances, they are selfless especially when in contact with people experiencing difficulties and always offer assistance when needed. Current information also indicates that Americans are on the forefront in assisting nations and states with crisis. Additionally, they have strong belief that the values embraced are a way of preserving the customs, culture and tradition of the United States of America (Parsons 234). More so, Americans aim to defend their nation to maintain the position of the top superpower nation in the world.


In the following paper, various factors and traits which make Therese Lafirme from the novel At Fault uniquely American are explored. Some of the features the paper highlights include the possession of a strong direct personality, being a groundbreaker, being strong and brave, a belief in equality, and being able to go through obstacles without giving up. In addition, her character proves that Americans tend to be hard-working and believe in freedom for everybody.

Therese Lafirme – Uniquely American

In At Fault by Kate Chopin, different characters possess and portray various traits discussed above which make Americans unique. They exhibit those features in different settings. The author mainly uses Therese Lafirme, the main character, to develop the plot of the story and explain what being uniquely American means. In all her activities and roles in the book, the woman exhibits the distinctive national characteristics.

According to the work, Therese is of Creole descent. However, she seems to be American due to the various roles she plays in the novel. One of her major characteristics is feminism. Her character is a true picture of the views and opinions concerning the ideology in the United States of America. She portrays feministic independence, willingness and urge to be able to succeed in her various endeavors. Moreover, the woman is the owner of the Place du Bois plantation and demonstrates the entrepreneurial spirit in her business venture of farming. In addition, Kate Chopin uses the character to express the major American trait that is a strong desire for freedom. The aspect of freedom varies from expressing the wish for it to showing the virtues such as love and emotions (Chopin 118). The events, circumstances and occurrences that take place in the character’s life explain the way of life of the American people who lived in the south during the late stages of the nineteenth century.

In the past, the South of America mainly dealt with farming. In essence, most of the settlers in the region were owners of plantations which required labor. Most of these residents believed in hard work that led to the prominence of the slavery ideology in the area. They resorted to agriculture as their main source of income. It was a tough time for the women in the society who did not understand their rights and privileges. The setting of the South of America in the 18th century relates to that of Therese Lafirme’s plantation in the novel. The character’s activities and role serve as a link to the happenings of the slavery period in the area (Harrison and Huntington 23).

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The story is set in the post-reconstruction period of the United States of America that took place in the nineteenth century. Therese lived in Place-du-Bois plantation that was adjacent to the Cane River. At that time, the territory was known as the Dirty South. The place also shared a close proximity to a town known as Natchitoches that was located near the Louisiana and Texas border. The woman became a widow when her husband died. She was at the age of 35 when the event occurred and left with great responsibilities of being the father and mother of the household. Expectations about her arose, and she had to perform various manly chores to maintain the family’s livelihood and take care of their home. The expectations of the society at that time were strict in the sense that she could neither delegate the duties nor look for another life. In the present day, her life would be easier since she would be able to remarry freely (Chopin 135). However, according to her status in the 1800 and living in the south, she was supposed to follow the rule of law that expected her to work hard in the fields. 

Therese experiences many events in her life that shape the characteristics and virtues she needs to determine the right course of action. After the demise of her husband, the woman seeks love again. She develops feelings and affection for St. Louis’s divorced businessman whose name is David Hosmer. However, diverse moral and religious constraints keep intruding into the woman’s life. The love triangle undergoes complication by the fact that she resides in the rural post-reconstruction South which is marked with various tensions (Chopin 145). Thus, she finds herself in a very difficult situation when she receives a proposal for marriage.

Certain values and norms existed which people had the obligation to follow at that time. A woman in the society was a very important figure, and she was a symbol of love and happiness. However, Therese felt frustrated due to the fact that she was in a particular state of being undecided on the various courses and measures she had to adopt to be able to free herself. Nevertheless, the situation did not last long since she was able to change everything and adapt to the challenges that she was facing (Harrison and Huntington 23). She willingly worked hard to cater for the family she had. She spent the majority of her time looking for the basic elements of sustainability for her family, and this proved to be an American quality. Moreover, despite her love triangle wars that involved the intervention of the businessman’s former wife, she was able to fight for what she believed was the right course of life. The woman pursued the desires of her heart amidst the various things that kept her tied to the society. As it was already mentioned, the norms that existed at that time made the females slaves and absolutely powerless. They were not to go against the authority of the men, and this particular idea did not suit Therese (Chopin 150). She was able to display her unique sense of authority through her ability to stand against those having the power and be a voice that supported the empowerment of women and the girl children. Therese faced many challenges from various men in authority and those who thought of her actions as displeasing to the society. Nevertheless, she was able to stand with confidence to defend her views and opinions concerning the various issues she had chosen to fight for the sake of herself and her happiness.

The ability to recognize your own worth in the presence of a male dominated society is also an element of the feminism promoted as being a part of the American culture. Therese was able to shun away from the oppression that would have frustrated her and chose a battle against the society. This was an act of courage considered as an American trait. At that time, various forms of punishment existed for such women. Upon the death of the husband, the existing at that time Southern culture viewed the widowed or divorced women as the property of the society. They were eligible for misuse through various sexual exploits and other forms of immoralities (Chopin 155). However, Therese was able to appreciate her value as a woman by avoiding men who would make her miserable and joining those who were a positive contribution in her life. She chose to pursue a right course of action by putting her self-worth and love first instead of abiding by the expectations and norms of the society.


Through the character of Therese, it is evident that Americanism involves the ability of knowing rights and voicing them out when you feel infringed. The woman is a perfect character that displays the values that the US holds as key and fundamental.

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