This essay explores the use of the frame structure in Kate Chopin’s “A Lady of Bayou St. John” and “La Belle Zoraiïde,” stories which feature the recurring characters of Madame Delisle and her slave, Manna-Loulou. When assessed independently, Zoraiïde’s story seems to be a cautionary tale about the psychological damages inflicted by racism, but in connection with “A Lady of Bayou St. John,” her tragedy becomes a means to the black narrator’s more pressing concern, her own security. This issue relates to the outer framework of Manna-Loulou and Delisle’s relationship, and it reveals a far more radical critique of Chopin’s slaveholding audience than has been suggested in previous scholarship.

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