illustration of a woman in a dress standing as if she were in shock

The Story of an Hour

by Kate Chopin

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Key Plot Points

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Louise Mallard Is Told of Her Husband’s Death: Brently Mallard’s friend Richards receives news of Brently’s death in a train accident. Richards goes to the Mallard home, and Josephine, Louise’s sister, tells Louise that her husband has died. Josephine and Richards break the news gently due to Louise’s heart condition.

Louise Grieves: Louise cries in her sister’s arms. Then, Louise goes to her room to grieve alone. She sits in an armchair and gazes out the window, occasionally sobbing.

Louise Discovers Her New Freedom: While at first Louise is afraid of the impending changes in her life, she gradually realizes that she is “free, free, free!” She thinks about the sadness she will initially feel in confronting her husband’s death, and then the joy of a life free from her husband’s—or anyone’s—control. She realizes that whether she loved her husband doesn’t matter, and is overjoyed at the prospect of a long life of freedom and independence.

Louise Leaves Her Room: Worried that Louise is making herself sick, Josephine knocks repeatedly on the door. Louise opens it, “carr[ying] herself… like a goddess of Victory,” and the two women descend the stairs.

Brently Mallard Arrives Home Alive: As Louise reaches the bottom of the stairs, the front door is unlocked and opened from the outside. Brently enters, alive and unaware of the accident. Though Richards tries to prevent Louise from seeing Brently right away, she does, and dies. Doctors attribute Louise’s death to heart disease: “the joy that kills.”

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