In "The Story of an Hour," by Kate Chopin, why does Chopin withhold the protagonist’s first name until paragraph 17?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Perhaps Chopin chooses to withhold the protagonist's first name for so long because Louise Mallard has been denied a true, personal identity for such a long time. While married, she had to "bend [her] will" to her husband's, and the Victorian woman really had no legal identity whatsoever due to the coverture laws of the time: when a woman married, her husband's identity "covered" hers, legally, and she, in essence, becomes subject to his will, her property becomes his, and so forth. It isn't until her husband dies (or she thinks that he dies) that she begins to believe that she can be "'free, free, free!'" Free of him, she now has a chance to live for herself, do what she wants when she wants, and not have to answer to anyone else or compromise or give way to what someone else wants. Withholding her name draws attention to Louise's lack of identity until she begins to realize her husband's death allows her to have one.

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The Story of an Hour

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