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The Story of an Hour

by Kate Chopin

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I need help constructing a thesis statement on the timeline of "The Story of an Hour."

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In "The Story of An Hour," a woman's life changes dramatically in the course of just one hour. A timeline might look something like this (we don't get exact times):

Mrs. Mallard, who has a heart condition, learns that her husband has been killed in a train accident.

She "wept at once," in her sister's arm, in a "storm of grief."

She goes by herself to her room. Once there, she is at first sad, but as she looks at the spring day and the sky, she feels "free." She is elated. Her grief turns to joy. She is happy her husband is dead, even though he was kind to her. She "would live for herself."

She prays now for a long life. She must have spent most of the hour in her room thinking about her new life because her sister comes and pounds on the door to see if she is alright. "At length," Mrs. Mallard emerges.

Finally, in the last minutes of the hour, her husband comes home. The reports of his death were a complete mistake. Mrs. Mallard has a heart attack and dies. People say she died of joy at seeing her husband, but we as readers know a different story.

With an established timeline, you now have to decide what it means. That will become your thesis. It is important that you go back and look at the story closely and make your own decisions, but two possibilities are as follows: first, you could focus on how quickly everything happens and argue that it was the rapidity in which events unfolded that led to Mrs. Mallard's death: she had to go through very intense, conflicting emotions of grief and shock and joy and shock and grief again too quickly and that killed her. In that case, you could argue that humans aren't meant to go through so much emotion so fast; the timeline of just an hour is not enough. This thesis would say something like: "In 'The Story of an Hour,' Mrs. Mallard goes through too many intense, conflicting emotions in too short a time and this kills her."

Another option would be to focus on how Mrs. Mallard spent the bulk of her hour, which was in celebrating her new, free life. Did she live a lifetime of joy in her imagination in just that, say, 45 minutes? Did she internalize the idea of freedom so wholly in that short time that the prospect of giving it up again was so unbearable that it killed her? Here, you might say something along the lines of the following: "In 'The Story of an Hour,' Mrs. Mallard spends most of her hour imagining her joyful life of freedom. She dies, but she has fully imagined a new life she won't give up again."

Or this may ignite your own ideas.

This is a start. I hope it helps.

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