Saturday, July 26, 2014

July 26th: Kate Chopin
A Month of Short Stories and Their Authors

now reading: Zola and His Time by Matthew Josephson

Doris Lessing, Virginia Woolf, and...

Today's Story: "The Story of an Hour"
Author: Kate Chopin

My Rating: A-

I was thinking B+, but this story definitely packs more of a punch than a B+ story, no? It's just so sad. The poor Mallards -- both of them. You're heartbroken at the end, and more for him than for her, with whom you have identified...

I think I've read this before, actually. Another one, just like yesterday's Hemingway story, that I didn't realize I'd already read until I had (re-)plunged in. Guess some of those English classes I took are just lying dormant in my brain somewhere...?

What I do remember reading is Kate Chopin's more famous feminist work, The Awakening, maybe in multiple English classes (although still not assigned as often as Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper"). These stories run together a little in my mind, thematically and where they sort of hover, historically.

"The Story of an Hour" just makes me too sad. Why did we have to set up the world so that when we are companioned (whether married, living in sin, or whatever) that we lose our autonomy? I know that's what's at the bottom of Louise Mallard's joy. She even says she loved him, or did she? She did! It doesn't matter! and so on. This wasn't by any means the worst marriage. Yet, she just can't have her whole self, and I know what she means. But we're precluded from saying it somehow. You just find yourself missing the weirdest little things about independence, like "buying the flowers yourself," as Mrs. Dalloway might do.

I really almost gave this a B+ because it's barely a story. But it does pack that punch. That saddening punch.

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