Why does Mrs. Mallard eventually lock herself in her room?  "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," after her initial reaction to the reported death of her husband, Mrs. Mallard "\

went away to her room alone.  She would have no one follow her.

These lines are significant, for they indicate that Mrs. Mallard seeks sanctuary from the eyes of others in the company of whom she must dissemble as she sorts out her feelings.  When she sinks into the armchair, it is most noteworthy, as another enotes editor has pointed out, that her chair faces the open window.  Symbolic, also, is the fact that the view is to the West as west represents the future and the end of life. 

The passage in which Mrs. Mallard turns from the present and looks out at the future is most significant.  For, here the view of nature is reflective of Mrs. Mallard's inner feelings.  Using only the pronoun she to refer to the main character, Chopin suggests the feminine perspective of the repressed Mrs. Mallard:

She could see...the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life.  The delicious breath of rain was in the air....The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reacher her faintly...There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds....in the west facing her window.

For a time, "She" sat motionless until "something" comes to her:  the realization that she has been released from her "heart trouble."  It is this pivotal passage that reveals to the reader that Mrs. Mallard has been repressed in her life.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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When Mrs. Mallard hears that her husband is (supposedly) dead, she cries her eyes out in her sister's arms.  Then she gets up and goes off to her own room to be alone.

I think there are two different ways that you can interpret this:

  • She is simply overcome by emotion and needs to be alone with her sorrows.  She needs to go be in a place that feels safe to her and might remind her of him.
  • She (whether consciously or not) realizes that she is not that sad.  She realizes that she is going to start saying things like "free, free, free" and knows that she should not let other people hear her talking like that.

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