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07Sep 2021 by

Reader Response #2–”Story of an Hour”

Read Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” (easily downloaded off the internet).  Many of you read this VERY SHORT short story in COMP II, but don’t be fooled. There is A LOT to write about for your reader responses.
Soon, we will discuss and compare “The Yellow Wallpaper” and this story.

Every time you read story, or an assigned part of a larger work (like a play), or any assigned reading for this WRITING INTENSIVE class, you will be writing a page and a half long submission in your Assignments.  At the top of your submission, I will expect you to give me the WORD COUNT–should be about 450 words.  I will grade each entry as you do them.  These entries are not hard to do, but are time-consuming.   Reader Responses require you to read and respond to each reading AND FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS I describe below.  Your Reader Response + other assignments will be MAJOR grade (35%) in this Writing Intensive class, so don’t get behind.  (See Grading Breakdown on Syllabus).
NOW, what do you do for each submission? You do a number of things, but most important is to just fill up the page with your alert responses to what you read. YOU WILL NOT BE GRADED ON GRAMMAR, JUST HOW WELL YOU CAN FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS!!
1. I want you to list all vocabulary words that you’re not sure of the meaning in the reading. List even simple words you may not “know”. This requires you to be ALERT WHEN YOU READ. Then GUESS at the meaning from the context in which the word appears.  It is not necessary, but recommended, that you consult the dictionary after you have guessed.  (I would also recommend that all of you download internet links to an online dictionary–free–and ADD to FAVORITES.
2. After this, you can copy down sentences that were DIFFICULT to understand. Then, much like your vocabulary, make an effort to figure out what the sentence or sentences mean.
3. You may want to do some CHARACTER ANALYSIS. List the traits you see emerging in only ONE or TWO major characters of the story as you read. DON’T JUST LIST CHARACTERS–I’LL MARK OFF FOR THIS.  Knowing the personalities of story characters is always important in writing intelligently about these stories, as you shall see.
4. You may want to do some Focused Freewriting about the story, or just simple guessing if you’re having trouble filling the page.
Just follow these instructions and you should do fine. If you start submitting poor entries I’ll tell you so (again, I’ll be grading each one) and recommend how to do better.  Finally I have posted below AND in the ANNOUNCEMENTS some “A” sample Reader Responses from former students.
SAMPLE “A” Reader Responses by former students:

Reader Response 1  “The Story of an Hour”   by Kate Chopin
Forestall – Thought it meant to not stall. Actual: prevent or obstruct (an anticipated event or action) by taking action ahead of time.
Tumultuously – Thought it meant calmer. Actual: excited, confused, or disorderly.
Imploring – Thought it meant begging. Actual: beg someone earnestly or desperately to do something.
Aquiver- Thought it meant shaking. Actual: quivering; trembling.
Importunities – Thought it meant frantic. Actual: Importunity is when you beg someone to do something the adjective importunate describes a plea that is so persistent or demanding that it becomes annoying.
It was her sister Josephine who told her, in broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in half concealing

It sounds like the sister was talking here and there about things but also slipping in bits and pieces about the husband being amongst the list of the killed from the train accident but in a way to not all at once admit the painful news to her ill sister.

He had only taken the time to assure himself of its truth by a second telegram, and had hastened to forestall any less careful, less tender friend in bearing the sad message

Richards wanted to really make sure he heard Mr. Mallard’s name on deceased list then quickly didn’t want to stall to figure out how to tell Mrs. Mallard before she found out by other means.

She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength.

Mrs. Mallard was a young appeared woman, not old and her face might not have wrinkles but that she had a determined persona.

It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought.

Mrs. Mallard’s stare into the distance didn’t mean she was looking back at the past but her eyes were showing that she was wondering if she should think the thoughts she wants to.

She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will—as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been.

Her hands were small slender, which could mean she was kept like a doll. Not working out of everyone’s sake for her condition. The thing she was recognizing that was trying to possess her was her smile and joy. She tried hard to keep her grief act while she at alone in the room but it was impossible to hold back such joy.

She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely.

Mrs. Mallard was acting sad earlier and she admitted that she would weep again when she had to see her husband in his casket. Even with the act she was happy in imagining the long years she’ll have happy living only for herself and not for a man.

Character Analysis
Louise Mallard (protagonist) a young woman with a fair face and a appearance that showed her being determined, though having a heart condition does not change that she is somewhat a manipulative actress. Hearing the news of her husband’s death she cries out in an exaggerated matter that leaves viewers to worry about her wellbeing. When she composes herself, alone in her room, her demeanor slowly shifts from grief to everlasting joy in recognizing her future.
Brently Mallard is the husband of Louise, not much is known about him except from the small bits here and there Louise expresses her feelings about him.
Josephine is Louise Mallard’s sister. She speaks briefly to the protagonist to take care of her wellbeing. Aware of her sister’s heart condition, she avoids being straightforward about her husband’s death and is stressfully persistent when she wanted her sister to open the locked door.
Richards is a friend of Brently Mallard, once hearing about the news of a train accident he collects the information about Mr. Mallard’s name from the train list before hurriedly but hesitantly telling Josephine the news to relay to Mrs. Mallard. He is protective of Louise even attempting to shield her view when Brently arrives to the home unharmed.
The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin is about Mrs. Mallard a woman who is carefully told about the news of her husband’s recent passing to not stir up her heart condition. Friends and family do their best to ease the news to her as any sudden news could startle her. She quickly falls from grief, easing to her room to sit in solitude to contemplate her true hidden feelings.
The Story of an Hour’s significance speaks about a woman with a heart condition but that’s not the real importance about the story. As a whole, she might have been shocked by the sudden grief from the eyes of friends and family but in truth she was more stricken by the joy of losing her husband. Mrs. Mallard was actually content that her husband died and only acted sad. She herself admitted to needing to cry when she saw the body during the funeral but actually only wanted to think of the freedom she had now and for the days to come. Based on this, it sounds like because of her condition, everyone treats her like a doll, unable to work unable to go about her day the way she wanted to. She stated that she loved her husband and sometimes didn’t, even admitting that now “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.” This was the era of telegrams, where man had the ultimate say in his wife’s position at home. So for Louise, her husband’s death was the freedom she wanted, so there was no man to tell her to stay home where she belonged. Completely overlooking her heart condition as if it didn’t exist anymore, she wanted to enjoy life as she wanted. Her final wish, dreaming of the long happy years and seasons she would live until she regretfully went downstairs as soon as her husband came home. The doctor stated she died out of joy of seeing her husband alive. To me, it started when she was in her room, getting excited thinking about the future. Seeing her husband was the final nail in the coffin, the trigger that shocked her into realizing that her future came to a crashing halt.


Emily F.
“Everyday Use”

Homely: (my guess) average; (actual) not pretty or handsome : plain or unattractive.
Tottering: (my guess) uneven, wobbly: (actual) being in an unstable condition.
Organdy: (my guess) a type of fabric; (actual) a very fine transparent muslin with a stiff finish
Furtive: (my guess) not standing out: (actual) done in a quiet and secret way to avoid being noticed.
Rump: (my guess) bold: (actual) the back part of an animal’s body where the thighs join the hips.
Sidle: (my guess)  movement: (actual) to move close to someone in a quiet or secret way

Unsure Sentences
“I will wait for her in the yard that Maggie and I made so clean and wavy yesterday afternoon.”  What threw me off was the word wavy. I guess they cleaned it up to the best of their ability and by continuing to sweep it made the surface a little more uneven.
“She used to read to us without pity; forcing words, lies, other folks habits, whole lives upon us two, witting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice” I feel as if Momma does not trust the things her educated daughter is telling her when she reads. This may be because Momma grew up in a time where white people only were educated. Education was a white thing and whatever the white man taught them was a lie. A way to keep them ignorant while making them feel equal.
“”Hakim-a-barber said, ‘I accept some of their doctrines, but farming and raising cattle is not my style’.” Is he trying to be polite? He seems to be saying that Mommas type of rural lifestyle is beneath him.
“When I looked at her like that something hit me in the top of the head and ran down to the soles of my feet.” Did something really hit her? Is she having some sort of epiphany? I believe she has just had it with the way her daughter treats them and it is a metaphor.
Momma: Strong independent single mother. Too poor to get an education. She Isn’t very pretty but she can do all the things a man can do. She has a very matter of fact personality. She accepts the fact that she is all these things, fat, uneducated, poor, etc. She is at home with herself and this is why she values what home she does have. Just as she values her heritage, she wants her daughters to value it as well. 
Maggie due to the scars from the house fire she is described as rather unattractive. Perhaps her shyness comes from the fact that in comparison to her sister she is very unattractive. She is also not very educated but she knows how to read a little bit, she stumbles over the words just as she stumbles slightly when she walks. When it comes to tradition and family heritage she is most like her mother. Unlike her sister she learned how to quilt, just as her grandmother had taught her.
Dee: She is the daughter who inherited beauty and brains. Her education and ambition shaped her into the young woman who’s character we meet. She does not so much follow in family tradition as she stated a new life with Hakim-al-barber. She is more interested in the roots of her people rather than her family specifically. 
            The story starts off with Momma in the yard of their modest home. She has cleaned up the yard with her youngest daughter Maggie, in anticipation of a visit from Dee. She beings to go into detail describing her life and the difference that make up her daughters. When she shows up with her new boyfriend, she seems to be more concerned with gathering up some heirlooms instead of conversing with her family. The only time she seems to speak to her mother and sister is when she makes snide remarks to them. The one thing that Momma is not so sure about allowing her to have are a pair of old quilts that she had been saving for Maggie. Dee insists on taking them because of a few reasons. She states that Maggie knows how to quilt  and can make some more, that she will use them everyday and wear them out, and that she does not understand and appreciate her heritage as much as Dee does. After listening to her daughter go on and on Momma states that something hits her in the head. She has had enough and snatched the quilts back from Dee and gives them to Maggie. On their way back to the car Dee tells her sister that she needs to try to better understand her heritage and she “ought to make something of herself.” She tells her sister that there is a whole new world out there from them and that the way her and Momma are living they will never get to know or enjoy it.

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