Story of an Hour Summary

Story of an Hour Summary

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The beginning of “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin launches directly into the plot and the first sentence, which is a paragraph unto itself, reveals not only that Mrs. Mallard has a heart condition but also that this should be a consideration when telling her that her husband died. In short, this first short paragraph not only introduces vital information but also acts as foreshadowing, an important element in “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin.

Her sister Josephine is the one who must tell her the bad news in the company of her husband’s friend Richards who was the one who heard the news first and then double-checked to make sure it was not a mistake. It is at this point in the second paragraph when the narrator of “Story of an Hour” narrows the focus on Mrs. Mallard and her reaction which is not taken with a “paralyzed inability to accept its significance” but rather with an instant bout of tears as she steals away to her room, wanting to be alone and sinking into an armchair by the window with a “physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul.”

Despite the sad news she has been given, she notices the world outside of her window; a world that is coming alive with the freshness and new life of spring. She notices the blue sky and twittering birds as she sobs every so often “as a child who has cried itself to sleep [and] continues to sob in its dreams.” The narrator goes on to describe the physical appearance of Mrs. Mallard, noting that she looks like an intelligent woman, despite the glassy look in her eyes which indicates a “suspension of intelligent thought.”