Locket Analysis

As with many short stories, the power of "The Locket" derives from the plot twist that occurs at the end of the narrative, for the reversal destroys both our assumptions and those of the characters within the tale. Throughout "The Locket," Chopin seeks to deceive as she hints that Edmond rather than the fourth man at the encampment is the one who died in the Civil War. She succeeds so fully that upon reading the final revelation, many readers might choose to return to the beginning of the story to review who the dead man might have been, to reaffirm that a fourth man was at the campfire that night. That man first appears "lying in the obscurity," suggesting his hidden nature, and he next appears as a dream serpent before he is eventually revealed as a "mere boy" without mystery or evil intent.
In writing "The Locket," Chopin refers to dual motifs of love and war that serve to connect the two vignettes that comprise the structure of the story. Part I's atmosphere of horror and destruction in the war contrasts easily with the springtime background of Part II, but they are intimately connected because of the tie between Edmond and Octavie. Edmond feels the connection in Part I from his side, and Octavie feels it in Part II from hers. Edmond, who lives in a drab encampment and who fights in the chaos of an unexpected battle, nevertheless retains a memory of Octavie's love, and although Octavie lives in a beautiful world of renewal and growth far away from the war, she is dressed in black mourning clothes, held back by the locket and its reminder of Edmond's presumed death.
Chopin portrays the days of the Civil War as particularly horrible because the war leads to premature aging among those who should be young and hopeful. The locket thief, Edmond, and Octavie are all young and in the prime of life. Yet, the unnamed locket thief dies while Edmond seems dead and Octavie herself wears mourning clothes during the most beautiful time of the year and is on the...