Why does Josephine “whisper” at Mrs. Mallard’s door instead of yelling in "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Josephine "whispers" at the door of her sister, Mrs. Mallard, because of what she perceives as the delicate state that Louise Mallard must be in since she has just received news that her husband has been killed in a train crash.

The irony, of course, is that Josephine does not realize that her sister has been whispering herself. Mrs Mallard pronounces not words of grief, but one idea repeatedly, "Free! Body and soul free!" This she says at first with disbelief, and then with growing comprehension, a comprehension that finally sweeps over her as she realizes that she will now be independent:

There would be no one to live for her 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.

Because Mrs. Mallard has led a repressed life, it takes her some time to comprehend what her freedom means. Nevertheless, she revels in this new release from the repressive life in which she has suffered for some time with "a heart trouble."

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The Story of an Hour

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