What's the point of view in "The Story of an Hour?"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A third-person narrator tells Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour."

In the first two paragraphs, the narrative is told in a reportorial voice by what we might call a third-person objective narrator. The actions of the characters are described without emotion or comment. This first paragraph, for example, could be printed in a newspaper, as it merely describes the who, what, and why of the initial situation. Then, in the third paragraph, the narrator begins to relate Mrs. Mallard's emotions as her reaction to the tragic news of her husband's accidental death is described.

Into this [armchair] she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul.

For about a dozen paragraphs, Chopin employs a limited narrator as she relates the emotions and thoughts that race through Mrs. Mallard's mind. (A limited narrator knows and is able to relate the thoughts and feelings of just one of the story's characters.) This narration is at the heart of the story; a repressed woman has been set free by the tragic death of her husband. At this time, she has a "moment of illumination":

...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.

Then, the final four paragraphs return to the third-person objective narrator that only reports what an observer would see as Mrs. Mallard descends the stairs from her bedroom and Brently Mallard comes through the front door.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The point of view in this short story is probably best described as that of a limited third person narrator.

The story is not told from the point of view of any of the characters.  We are not seeing the story through Mrs. Mallard's eyes or those of her sister or any one else's eyes.  Instead, we are outside of the action looking in.

We can say the narrator is limited because he or she can know what the people are thinking, but not all the time.  The narrator is not just telling us what happened, he or she is also telling us what Louise is thinking.  But we don't really know what anyone else is thinking.

jamiev828 | Student

The story is told from 3rd person omnisient point of view. Though it basically adds nothing to the story except to trick those of us who are required to write a paper on it. it is within the first paragraph.

"Her husband's friend Richards was there, too, near her. It was he who had been in the newspaper office when intelligence of the railroad disaster was received, with Brently Mallard's name leading the list of "killed." He had only taken the time to assure himself of its truth by a second telegram, and had hastened to forestall any less careful, less tender friend in bearing the sad message."

roets | Student

thay mrs mallard was opressed so now that she hears the news of her husbands death she feels free.

mizzjellybean | Student

The attitude or outlook of a narrator or character in a piece of literature, a movie, or another art form.

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The Story of an Hour

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