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What was Mrs. Mallard's first reaction to the news of her husband's alleged death, and...

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naseem | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 27, 2010 at 3:31 AM via web

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What was Mrs. Mallard's first reaction to the news of her husband's alleged death, and what words did she use to express her later feelings?

This question is from "The Story of an Hour," by Kate Chopin.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 27, 2010 at 3:52 AM (Answer #1)

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Because of Mrs. Mallard's "heart condition," the news about her husband's death was broken to her gently in Kate Chopin's short story, "The Story of an Hour." First, she "wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister's arms." Then she withdrew to her bedroom, where she sank into her "comfortable, roomy armchair." From the open window, she could smell the "delicious breath of rain" in the air; the tops of the trees were alive with "new spring life." From her favorite chair, she whispered over and over "free, free, free." Her pulse beat fast, warming her blood, and a "monstrous joy" overcame her.

"Free! Body and soul free!" she kept whispering. 

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted February 27, 2010 at 3:54 AM (Answer #2)

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In Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," Mrs Mallard first cries at the news of her husband's death:

She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance.  She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister's arms. 

But her despair later changes.  The change comes upon her in stages:

There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. 

When she realizes what the thought is that is "coming to her," she whispers:  "...free, free, free."  She thinks of "...a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely.  And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome."

She whispers again:

Free!  Body and soul free!

The progression that occurs in Mrs. Mallard's mind is mostly revealed by the narrator in the form of Mrs. Mallard's thoughts.  But she does use the above words to express her thoughts, as well.

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