Sunday, February 2, 2014

Library of America Story of the Week Read-Along 212: Kate Chopin, The Story of an Hour (#212)

Kate Chopin, "The Story of an Hour" (1894) from Kate Chopin: Complete Novels & Stories:

Interesting backstory here: (a) the story of a train accident-caused widowhood was Kate's mom's story; (b) the story was rejected by Vogue at first; and (c) was only accepted after the success of her collection Bayou Folk.

Which means that, yes, Vogue existed in the 1890s.

I'm not that surprised that the story was rejected by many places: it's a tiny story that focuses on a woman's feelings--and does so in rather stark terms. That is, the protagonist of this story has learned that her husband has died and feels a crushing sadness for one page; then, on the second page, she feels... free. Sure, she loved her husband, but whether he had good or bad intentions, his very existence limited her.

Then, on the third page, he shows up alive, which is such a shock to the ex-widow with a heart condition (established on page one) that she dies.

So we have a nicely constructed story with a shocking twist; and a view of a woman's interest in being free of men (which must have been disturbing to people who were busy constructing the ideal of the Angel in the House for women to stick to). An interesting story whether you're interested in structure or history.

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