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The Story of an Hour

by Kate Chopin

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Student Question

How does "The Story of an Hour" begin and end? Is there any direct speech?

Expert Answers

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"The Story of an Hour," written by Kate Chopin, begins with the author giving the reader the information that Mrs. Mallard, the protagonist, suffers from "heart trouble."  This is a very clear definition of foreshadowing, which occurs when a clue is given about an event that is yet to come.  The story ends with the statement that Mrs. Mallard "had died of heart disease."

Direct speech, which is speech that is quoted without being modified in any way, is found in "The Story of an Hour," but there is not a great deal of it. 

"Free!  Body and soul free!" she kept whispering.

Josephine was kneeling before the closed door with her lips to the keyhole, imploring for admission.  "Louise, open the door!  I beg; open the door--you will make yourself ill.  What are you doing, Louise?  For heaven's sake open the door."

"Go away.  I am not making myself ill."  No; she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window.

Unlike reported speech, which is not enclosed in quotation marks, direct speech does not include changes in verb tense.  Direct speech is often used to add a sense of realness and depth to a character, such as through the use of dialect or slang.  In addition, dialogue or conversation may be more excited and entertaining when written using direct speech instead of reported speech.

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