2 2To fully understand what motivates the characters of any story, we have to understand the times in which they live and the struggles they face. After all, the CONFLICT of any good story - and how the characters respond to that conflict - is what gives us a reason to read the story in the first place. In some stories, conflict is caused by EXTERNAL forces (war, natural disasters, famine, bullies, betrayal, etc.) while in other stories, like the ones we are going to be reading this semester, the conflict is INTERNAL.
3 3Often, the two overlap, with one causing or exacerbating the other. Only after examining the historical perspective of a story’s setting and the author’s own background can we intelligently comment on and analyze a story’s message or theme.
4 4In "Story of an Hour", the protagonist Louise Mallard faces external conflict AND internal conflict when she receives new of her husband's death in a train wreck, but it is the INTERNAL conflict with which the story is mainly concerned.
5 TASKIn this task, you are being asked to discover the motivation behind the emotional upheaval Louise Mallard (the protagonist in "Story of an Hour") experiences and her unexpected reaction to the news of her husband's death. It is necessary, however, to better understand Kate Chopin and her life and times before we can fully understand Louise Mallard. It is too easy to assume that Louise was abused by her husband, but the story doesn't support that assumption. Why, then, does she react the way she does?
6 TASKThis task will take you to multiple websites to gain insight into Kate Chopin and her thoughts about the status of women and the constraints placed on them by "genteel society" of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Hopefully, you will then better understand Louise Mallard's motivation.
7 PROCESS EXPLORING THE WEBSITES: Explore the LINKS listed on the question page (RESOURCE #3) to find out more about Kate Chopin (follow the links – youmay have to cut and paste.) Once you know KateChopin better, you will begin to understand whatmotivates Louise Mallard, the protagonist in "Story ofan Hour" (where is she "coming from"?).
8 Process (cont.)2. FINDING THE ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS: Don’t expect to find the answers to the questions all in one “spot” or on one site. Browse all the sites and answer the questions from a fully informed perspective. I’m not looking for you to regurgitate the information contained on the websites to me. I’m interested in YOUR REACTION to it and in your own insight. Resources #2 thru #5 are old newspaper advertisements from the late 1800s. Take a look at those photos before you answer the last question.
9 PROCESS (cont.)3. ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS: You can download the question sheet to your computer and type your answers right onto the page. Then you can save it again, print it out and bring it to class. Hopefully, after answering the questions provided, you will better understand Louise Mallard's reaction to the news of her husband's death.
14 The Life and Times of Kate Chopin Use the following hyperlinks to discover information about Kate Chopin and answer the questions that follow on the next page:.
15 ?? Questions ?? 1. On what topic do Kate Chopin’s works focus? 2. What reaction did her two novels, At Fault and The Awakening, receive?3. When did Kate Chopin live and write? What were the social, political and legal realities for women of her time?4. When did critics/scholars finally begin to accept The Awakening? After viewing a timeline of the women’s rights movement, suggest a reason for that acceptance.5. Are Chopin’s own life/family background/beliefs evident in “The Story of an Hour”?
16 ?? More Questions ??6. Who were some of Chopin’s female contemporaries with whom she shared similar concerns?7. Compare/contrast the following quotes taken from two of Chopin’s stories:"Even as a child she had lived her own small life all within herself. At a very early period she had apprehended instinctively the dual life—that outward existence which conforms, the inward life which questions." Description of Edna Pontellier in The Awakening."There would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature." Description of Mrs. Mallard in "The Story of an Hour."8. Choose a few lines from Chopin’s own words (her diaries or journals) and explain how those beliefs/concerns make her “a woman ahead of her times” and how they are reflected in “The Story of an Hour”.9. Compare the women in the old newspaper advertisements to your impression of Kate Chopin.(These photos can be found at
17 ExpectationsYou will be expected to: 1. Complete the question guide (to be collected) and Intelligently discuss "Story of an Hour" and Kate Chopin in class with your peers (for participation points). You may be expected to: 3. Retell part of the story (perhaps as a journal entry) from Josephine's or the doctor's point of view. 4. Refer to what you've learned about Kate Chopin in an essay question on a test. 5. Incorporate the information you have gleaned from this experience into a literary analysis essay about "Story of an Hour".