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The Suspense of an Hour

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  • Pages: 2
  • Word count: 424
  • Category: Fiction

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One of the most admirable aspects of Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” is the way that she is able to capture so much suspense in such a short story. Throughout the story the narrator offers a window into Mrs. Mallard’s true feelings about her husband’s death. At first the reader is unsure of these feelings, much like Mrs. Mallard herself, but as you continue to read you get the idea that Mrs. Mallard is not as upset as you would expect a woman that has just been told she has become a widow would be.

The suspense of “The Story of an Hour,” peaks in what I would consider one of the most important paragraphs in the story. “There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air.” In this paragraph Chopin gives the foreshadowing of a major turning point in the story. Whether that be related to Mrs. Mallard’s heart trouble mentioned within the first line of the story, or to something else entirely the reader does not yet know. The power and the suspense generated by this passage, which seems to be strategically placed as the tenth paragraph in the twenty paragraph story, pulls the reader in even more to create the suspense and shock as you read on.

Chopin writes, “When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped from her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: “free, free, free!” It is in this passage that the reader sees the first hard evidence that Mrs. Mallard is not saddened about her husband’s death but quite oppositely feels somewhat relieved. This information about Mrs. Mallard’s true feelings gives the reader more of an understanding when referring back to the suspense given in the description of Mrs. Mallard’s pleasant surroundings immediately following her being informed of the news about her husband. “The Story of an Hour,” is a prime example of a well written suspenseful and shocking short story. Kate Chopin’s writing style used in “The Story of an Hour” concentrates on strategically placed passages written to keeping the readers’ attention fully focused without feeling lost throughout any of the story. Chopin’s use of alluring subject matter paired with an unlikely conclusion make for a well-rounded and entertaining short story.

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