In the story “Athenaise,” Chopin portrayal of the character Cazeau is almost a direct reflection of the character Karol Karol from the film “White.” Both men love their respective wives deeply, but they also realize that their wives do not feel the same. These men have to struggle with the inner turmoil of letting go of the women they love. In the film “White,” the director portrayed the change in Karol Karol through the use of flashbacks. Kieslowski uses flashbacks to show us Karol’s past. This is done many times throughout the film; the audience saw Karol Karol reflect back to his wedding day as he walked up the steps of the court house on his way to his divorce hearing.
This flashback was interrupted when a bird relieved himself on Karol Karol; the author used the bird as a subtle kickback to reality. Kieslowski uses this method many more times in the duration of the film, and as a result he shows the importance of Karol Karol letting go of his wife. Chopin also used flashbacks to show us the change in Cazeau. The character Cazeau is in love with Athenaise, but she like Karol’s wife Dominique does not feel the same about Cazeau. Athenaise ran away to her parents house, and Cazeau followed her determined to take her home with him. The flashback occurred on their trip home. Cazeau and Athenaise passed an oak tree on their journey, and this tree triggered the flashback.
Cazeau upon seeing this tree recalled a memory of when he and his father were returning a runaway slave to their home. This memory caused Cazeau to feel as if he were treating Athenaise as a slave. The author used the flashback of Cazeau’s youth to make the character realize the importance of freeing his wife. Both, Chopin and Kieslowski used flashback as a tool to bring about a change in both Karol Karol and Cazeau. In both stories the husbands loved their wives, but upon remembering a event of their past the husbands both felt that for all to be happy it would be best for them to let go of their love.
There is a strong similarity between the way both characters went through their change, and also in the change that occurred.