In “The Story of an Hour” and “Growing up Native ” we are given stories of women who have gone through a type of crisis. How is the main female protagonist in each of these stories either...

In “The Story of an Hour” and “Growing up Native ” we are given stories of women who have gone through a type of crisis. How is the main female protagonist in each of these stories either similar or different?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One similarity between the women in "A Story of an Hour" and "Growing up Native" is the pain experienced when a person is silenced.  A significant difference is how this "silencing" takes place.

In both stories, there is a clear articulation of what it is like to be silenced. Geddes describes how she experienced prejudice as a Native American. Her voice is silenced when she is told to “go back to your bows and arrows and fish with spears." Over time, this prejudice affects how she sees herself:  “You get a really bad image of yourself…I bought into it. I thought we were awful.” The crisis she experiences is a form of racial discrimination. Her voice as a human being is removed in the face of such prejudice.  

The narrator in "A Story of an Hour" experiences a similar silencing of voice.   Louise Mallard experiences a type of silencing because of the institution of marriage.  Her voice is silenced because she is a wife and must defer to her husband: "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 with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature."  Marriage essentially silences her voice as a woman.

It is here where there are some differences between both women.  Geddes is marginalized, or silenced, because of her ethnicity as a Native American.  Louise is marginalized because of her gender as a woman.  The significance of this is that Geddes talks of being silenced from a collective point of view.  She speaks of her people and her Native American ethnic identity.  Louise's marginalization is much more private.  It is something that she experiences on her own.  There is no attempt to broaden her struggle to another person.

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