The author, Kate Chopin is making a statement about life and how it can be drastically altered in as little as an hour. The main character, figuratively speaking, lives a new life in the space of one hour.
At the beginning of the story, Mrs. Mallard is given the news that her husband is dead. He was among the victims of a railroad disaster. Louise Mallard is in shock, she retreats to her room, where she remains. While in her room, she thinks about the new life she will have free from the domination of her controlling husband.
She begins to feel a sense of freedom that she never thought she would experience.
"There would be no one to live for during those coming years: she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence." (Chopin)
She fantasized about the beauty of the days ahead of her, hoping that her new life would be a very long one.
Suddenly, there is a commotion at her door, Louise emerges from her room, and sees her husband, who had arrived home. He had not been in the railroad crash, no where in the area in fact.
Louise Mallard's longing daydream of a life all her own was over, in fact, in that instant, she dies, having lived the life of freedom only in her mind, for the short space of an hour.
The action of the story is condensed into about an hour. All the activity, news of the death, feigned sorrow, rejoicing at new found freedom, feigning the proper 'attitude,' and all the wonderful irony of this day are crammed into a brief time frame. The title which describes all that goes on in this story is as ironic as much of the action. It would be hard to come up with a more mundane title than "The Story of an Hour." It would seem that not much is going to happen in this story, so we are hardly prepared for what occurs.