The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

 

 

About the Author

American author Kate Chopin (1850 - 1904, born Katherine O'Flaherty) wrote two novels and about a hundred short stories in the 1890s. She is a good example of an American realist, someone trying to represent life the way it actually is lived. Most of her fiction is set in Louisiana and most of her best-known work focuses on the lives of sensitive, intelligent women.

 

Her short stories were well received in her own time and were published by some of America's most prestigious magazines—Vogue, the Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Young People, Youth's Companion, and the Century. Her stories appeared also in her two published anthologies, Bayou Folk (1894) and A Night in Acadie (1897), both of which received good reviews from critics across the country. About a third of her stories are children's stories. By the late 1890s Kate Chopin was well known among American readers of magazine fiction. Her early novel At Fault (1890) had not been much noticed by the public, but The Awakening (1899) about a sensual, determined woman who insists on her independence was widely condemned. It was criticised on moral and literary grounds.

 

After her death Kate Chopin's fiction was mostly forgotten, but in the 1920s her short stories began to appear in anthologies, and slowly people again came to read her. By the 1950s scholars and others started to recognise Chopin’s work as insightful and moving. This set in motion a Kate Chopin revival, which turned out to be one of the more remarkable literary revivals in the United States. After 1969, when a biography sympathetic to The Awakening was published, along with an edition of her complete works, Kate Chopin became known throughout the world. Her work has been translated into other languages, including French, Portuguese, Dutch, Polish, Korean, and Czech. She is today understood as a classic writer who speaks eloquently to contemporary concerns and as a forerunner of feminist authors of the 20th century.

 

About the Story

"The Story of an Hour" (1894) is probably one of the most popular stories by Kate Chopin. The story was first published in 1894 under the title The Dream of an Hour. Susan Cahill has called it "one of feminism's sacred texts" in 1975. Many critics have commented that in the story Kate Chopin clearly shows what it sometimes feels like to be a woman. Other critics have commented that the story demonstrates Chopin’s yearning for freedom as well as her sense of ambiguity and her complex way of seeing life.

 

The story is set in the late nineteenth century in the home of Louise Mallard and takes place in a one-hour span of time in the life of Mrs. Mallard. She has a heart condition, which causes her sister Josephine and her husband's friend, Richards, to be extremely concerned about her when the terrible news of her husband's death in a train accident is passed on to her.

 

If you want to listen to the story before answering the questions, please go to http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Story_of_an_Hour.

 

Questions

1. What do the characters believe about Mr Mallard?

A. That he left his wife.

B. That he sent them a telegram.

C. That he left town on a business trip.

D. That he was killed in a train accident.

 

2. What happened to Mr Mallard according to the story?

A. He was cheated by his friend Richards in a business deal.

B. He was killed in a train accident.

C. Nothing happened to him.

D. He left his wife for another woman.

 

3. How did Richards hear about the railway disaster?

A. He received a telegram.

B. He heard about it at the newspaper office.

C. He read about it in the newspaper.

D. He heard about it from Josephine.

 

4. The open window in the bedroom represents

A. Mrs Mallard’s suicidal tendency

B. An opening to a larger, freer world

C. An uncaring universe

D. Careless housekeeping

 

5. Mrs Mallard’s views of love and marriage were

A. Controversial for that era

B. Oriented towards pleasing her husband

C. Treasonous, even by today’s standards

D. Traditional for that era

 

6. How does Mrs Mallard view marriage? As an

A. Joyous affair

B. Cruelty to women

C. Flexible arrangement allowing maximum freedom

D. Struggle of wills between two people

 

7. What feeling does Mrs Mallard realize she values most?

A. Her husband’s love for her

B. Self-assertion

C. Grief

D. Her love for her husband

 

8. What happens to Mrs Mallard at the end of the story?

A. She enjoys a moment of triumph.

B. She begins to make funeral arrangements.

C. She dies of a heart attack.

D. She faints with joy.

 

9. The story’s irony occurs when…

A. Brently Mallard walks in the door

B. The doctor attributes the cause of death to joy

C. Josephine worries Mrs Mallard is sick with grief

D. All of the above

 

10. Why was Mrs. Mallard’s family worried about telling her of her husband’s death?

 

11. How did Mrs. Mallard initially react to the news?

 

12. What is Mrs. Mallard’s final conclusion about her life on her husband’s death?

 

13. What is Mrs. Mallard’s reaction when she saw her husband alive?

 

14. How is the conclusion of the story foreshadowed in the first sentence?

 

15. How is irony used in the last sentence?

 

16. How does Chopin reveal her attitude toward marriage through Mrs. Mallard?

 

17. In your opinion, does Mrs. Mallard love her husband?

 

18. Does Mrs. Mallard's reaction to her husband's death reflect cold-heartedness or the complicated nature of marriage?

 

19. Give a description of each of the four characters that are mentioned in The Story of An Hour.

 

20. Pick out five phrases, which you think are especially important to the story. Briefly describe why you chose each one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Short Stories