“The Story of an Hour”
Literary Guide
Keena P. Day, M.A.
Author: Kate Chopin (1851-1904)
Wrote two published
novels and about a
hundred short stories in
the 1890s (Realism
Literary Period)
Most of her fiction is set
in Louisiana and most of
her best-known work
focuses on the lives of
sensitive, intelligent
Before You Read
Predict what you think might happen in
this text from the first line:
“Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart
trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently
as possible the news of her husband's death.”
Literary Elements: Symbols
Symbols- Determine what these objects
and people might stand for while reading
the text:
Heart Troubles
Mrs. Mallard
Spring time
Patches of Blue Sky
Chair facing an open window
Literary Elements: Irony
Irony: When something opposite of what was
expected happens
 Verbal- saying something but meaning the opposite
(sarcasm and understatement are included)
 Situational- when a situation happens that is opposite
of what was expected.
 Dramatic- when the audience knows information
characters don’t know
Look for examples of irony within the text: red
pencil/crayon for examples of verbal irony,
blue for situational irony and green for
dramatic irony
Literary Elements
Look for examples of:
Figurative Language
Use of Diction to create imagery within the
Vocabulary Assignment
During the story, write down 5 words in
your vocabulary section that
Discussion Questions
What is the customary reaction of a person who loses a spouse?
What are reasons for a person to not have this type of response?
How might heart trouble be more than a physical ailment? Note that
this is the first thing we are told about her and how other people
respond to her. Evidently this is--at least for those around her--an
important part of who she is. Who took care? Why is this written in
the passive voice, with a "hidden" subject? What does this
construction suggest about Mrs. Mallard's customary environment?
Not hearing the news- Why are we first told how she does NOT hear
the news? What does this reaction suggest about her? about how
"ladies" were expected to react? Look for repeated uses of the
negatives and positives in the story and consider why they might be
Writing Activities
What is your interpretation of Mrs. Mallard’s
death? Write a persuasive essay, using textual
evidence, to support your thoughts.
Write a comparison/contrast essay
differentiating the use of irony within the text
(namely situational and dramatic irony) and use
textual evidence to show this contrast (4-5
paragraph essay)
Discuss symbols within the text. Discuss, using
textual evidence, your interpretation of these

“The Story of an Hour” Literary Guide