What is the plot of "The Story of an Hour"?

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linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Story of an Hour" is a very brief short story about one hour in the life of Louise Mallard. As the story begins, her sister Josephine and her husband's friend Mr. Richards have come to tell Louise some bad news. They are very careful about how they give her the news because Louise has a heart condition, and the shock could kill her. Finally, they manage to tell her that her husband has been killed in a train wreck.

Louise does not have a heart attack, but she does need time to be alone. She locks herself in her bedroom and considers what to do now. Surprisingly, she is not devasted by her husband's death. Instead, she feels a sense of freedom that now she can have her own life. When she decides to leave the bedroom, she has a renewed feeling of optimism rather than grief.

However--and I won't give away the ending--as Louise descends the stairs she receives the shock that her heart cannot withstand, and she dies instantly.

This is a great story to make you wonder "what if?" and "why?"