“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, American (1850-1904)
“Great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death.”
I have read Kate Chopin’s short story, “The Story of an Hour,” many times, every time with the same “wild abandonment” as Louise Mallard, the story’s protagonist. I pretend not to have read it before, relishing each word with fresh eyes and an open mind, yet preparing myself for the shocking, realistic ending. I am in awe of Chopin’s skill in drawing me into Mrs. Mallard’s life, even for an hour, taking me on an emotional and psychological roller-coaster ride.
When the story opens, we learn of Mrs. Mallard’s heart trouble, her sister Josephine’s “veiled hints,” and her husband’s friend, Richards, “bearing the sad message.” After weeping on her sister’s shoulder, Mrs. Mallard retires to her room alone. She sits in an armchair in front of an open window.
“She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air. In the street below, a peddler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves.”