This first reading assignment included the stories: "The Story of an Hour,"The Open Window," and "The Necklace." The most obvious similarity between these stories is the ironic surprise ending. These stories all have a unique style in conveying their endings. ÒThe NecklaceÓ is most certainly the dullest. From the start we are introduced to an unsympathetic female whose worse qualities, such as materialism and over elaborate tastes, are characteristics, according to the author, of the Ògreatest ladies.Ó Either Guy De MaupassantÕs ideals are slightly flawed or he was simply utilizing verbal irony to illustrate the popular values of his time. Perhaps the end of the story came as a shock to its early audiences but due to my exposure to modern story telling, which has explored as well as exploited every conceivable Òsurprise ending,Ó I wasnÕt surprised or amused to say the least.
ÒThe Open WindowÓ is more of a clever story. One line in particular is hilarious in its context. When Framton was simply engaging in a nice conversation with Mrs. Sappleton, after hearing about her alleged loss, the author simply says ÒTo Framton it was all purely horrible.Ó Like ÒThe Necklace,Ó ÒThe Open WindowÓ takes advantage of the main characterÕs ignorance for a cleaver ending at his expense. The reason I admire ÒThe Open WindowÓ and not ÒThe NecklaceÓ is because I believe the nature of the irony, which is similar for both stories, is more suited to the less serious consequences in ÒThe Open WindowÓ as opposed to the devastating consequence of a wasted life in ÒThe Necklace.Ó
I thought ÒThe Story of an HourÓ is a brilliant story. I read it several times to make sure that I hadnÕt misunderstood the ending. The first line of the story has a different meaning after one reads the whole story. Unlike the other stories, which gave the main characterÕs either harmless or seriously tragic consequences, ÒThe Story of an HourÓ goes further by killing the main character in a completely different way than is anticipated at the beginning of the story.
A can not determine an obvious theme to this story. One idea I can come up with is that the story illustrates that that which one underestimates will be his or her downfall. With Mrs. Mallard, it was death that was underestimated. Instead of concerning her self with the seriousness and absolute finality of death , or mourning her loss, she almost immediately looked to a bright future. It was her underestimation of death that caused her to be so crushed by the sight of her allegedly dead husband.
Kate Chopin truly mastered her use of situational irony and a wonderfully dark sense of humor to make ÒThe Story of an HourÓ unforgettable. I am looking forward to reading more of her writing.