A lot can happen in an hour, especially in the mind. Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” concerns the story of a woman, Louise Mallard, as she reacts to news of her husband’s death. While the story takes place over the course of only one hour, Chopin reveals much more between the lines of Mrs. Mallards reflections through the story by layering each word with irony, multiple meanings, and symbols to deliver themes of repression and identity concerning woman.
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The presentation of Mrs. Mallard’s first name, Louise, comes at the time when she feels most free. Only after her husband’s death in her initial moment’s of grief and solitude does Mrs. Mallard become fully aware of herself. Until that point, her identity as a person was repressed to being Mr. Mallard’s wife. Louise no longer feels grief over the news her husband’s death, but rather, she feels “Free! Body and soul free!” (443). She beings to revel in her freedom by thinking of her future life – her own life. Unfortunately, her new found freedom vanishes with the appearance of her husband and the repression he represents as alive and well. In the end, Louise dies with “a joy that kills” (443) – tragically ironic in more than one sense of the word or perhaps true to the words as her death make her fully free.
A Good Man is Hard to Find (250)
Flanner O’ Connor’s uses irony in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” through The Misfit, whose ruthless murder of the family actually serves as a form of salvation to the grandmother . The grandmother’s stories focus on her desire to marry an old suitor, Mr. Teagarden, because he was a wealthy man suggest her preference of material possessions and superficial items rather than love and personal relationships. She is shown as selfish in her opinions as she proclaims her desire to go to Tennessee while never considering the opinions of the rest of the family to go to Florida. She lies to her family and constantly chastises her son. Her selfishness also becomes evident at the end of the story when she states that she will give away all of her money to Jesus in an attempt to save herself. Additionally, she seems to only plead for her own life as The Misfit and his posse slaughter his family around her. Her own beliefs are shaky at best, but she constantly criticizes how people live their lives. By contrast, the Misfit’s philosophies while twisted are consistent in guiding his life. Only because she is facing death does the grandmother realize her own hypocrisy, she realizes how she has flaws like everybody else, and that she has taken the wrong path in life. In a final cry, the grandmother declares the Misfit as “one of my babies” (257) suggesting her newfound understanding and through her moment of compassion – grace.
To Look Out The Window (404)
Orhan Pamuk’s “To Look Out The Window” is less of a story and more or a nostalgic recollection of his childhood. The author takes the reader back to 1950’s Turkey before television had arrived in his neighborhood. Pamuk muses the boredom of life was “fought off by listening to the radio or looking out the window into neighboring apartments or at people passing in the street below” (404). Pamuk offers his own young eyes as a perspective of another time and place to the reader.
Using this lens, the child’s immature understanding of his situation are clearly narrated on the surface. Preoccupied with bubble gum and cards like any child, he recalls the events but is unable to fully comprehend the reactions, motivations, and events surrounding his adult family. With this backdrop established, more significance is put into the silences and nonverbal actions of the characters throughout the story. While the narrator is too young to fully comprehend the current situation between the family adults and the deeper meanings involved, he often notes how the characters say “nothing” during key parts of the story. The father falls silent in a conversation with his wife suggesting his unhappiness. Upon discovering the father’s absence, the narrator’s mother maintains her poker face for the children, but her silence later on clearly indicates her true emotions.
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Often during these silences, the characters are depicted as looking out of their window. Right before his father leaves, the narrator recalls how his father “took me in his lap, and for a long time we looked out the window together” (408). Similarly, the mother’s reaction after realizing the true nature of the father’s absence is revealed as the narrator comments, “She said nothing. In the silence of the night, we watched the rainy street for a very long time” (411). Pamuk uses the imagery as each characters looks out the window to relate the true significance of key points throughout the story. Through the child’s young ignorant eyes, the silences of each character and the imagery as they look out the window say much more than can ever actually be said.
A Gentleman’s C (133)
In the first line of “A Gentleman’s C”, the reader is told that a son ends up teaching his father in an English course. The father dies of a heart attack after he gets a ‘c’ grade which prevents him from graduating. Powell’s use of the archetypal relationship between a father and son present a relational convention in which the reader brings his own understand standing to the story, thereby creating deeper emotional impact as keeping the story so short. The significance of this story lies in in it’s brevity and structure. A father enrolls in his sons English class, the son gives his father a c, the son and mother go to a funeral, and the father dies because of the low “c” gradeâ€¦or does he? While the narrator seems to associate the death of his father with the low grade in his own mind, the actual cause of the father’s death is not actually identified. Perhaps, the narrator’s guilty mindset reveals subtle hints into his actual relationship with his father. Not much happens in terms of plot, the setting and background information is basically ignored, and the whole story from beginning to end is extremely brief. With the brevity of the entire story, lack or background information, and scarcity of detail, the narrator may be indicating that the same can be said of his relationship with his father. As a result, the few details that are included in the story of the dowdy couch and the “hard, honest, low C” (133) and the tough grade stand out against the rest of the bare-boned story in such a strong manner that indicates – these adjectives actually refer to the narrator’s latent feelings toward his father. The narrator states how he may have been harder on his father compared to the others, but he also snaps back a question to himself, “Hadn’t he been tougher on me than the other people’s kids growing up?” (133). Additionally, he describes the grade he gives his father as hard, honest, and low further implying that the narrator’s grade has less to do with his critique of his father’s work in his English class and more to do with the quality of their relationship. After investigating the story in a whole sense, it becomes obvious that it’s brevity and bare style are purposefully intended. Much more can be revealed by examining the story as an actual object than through the examination of it’s words alone.
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