Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kate Chopin - from The Awakening and "The Story of an Hour"

No, Realism, do not do this to me. I thought you would never turn into a "chick flick" on me! But, anyway, this is definitely a different side of Realism than anything else. Both of these stories are about a woman, presumably Kate Chopin, the author, who is crying (well, sobbing uncontrollably) in different situations. In the section from "The Awakening," the character is actually just sitting outside in a village, well into the night, on a chair, crying her eyes out (Chopin, "The Awakening," 491). What reason does the author give to why she is sitting in the dark, completely alone? "She was just having a good cry all to herself," (Chopin, "The Awakening," 491) though it does hint at the recent death of her husband. Also, in "The Story of an Hour," the woman cries over the loss of her husband (Chopin, "The Story," 554-555). This exemplifies the perfect definition of Realism, which is "the attempt to depict life as it actually exists, not as the author wants it to be in the present or the future, or imagines it was in the past" (Werlock). Obviously, Chopin is living in the "now" in both of these stories because she does not pervert the story in any way: they are both simply about a woman crying because she feels the need. There are no references to the past or glimpses into the future because the story has more meaning and effect as told like it is. Also, the passage from "The Awakening" could fit into Naturalism because of its outdoor setting in nature (Chopin, "The Awakening," 491). Not only is the action taking place outside, but the darkness and complete silence she is sitting in creates an erie feeling, one that sets the tone of death and despair and is later confirmed (Chopin, "The Awakening," 491). Shifting to a different sort of nature, it is only natural to grieve over death. The loss of a loved one is difficult to deal with. However, people do not like to watch others cry, usually, so they take it upon themselves to make the crying person feel better. In the short story, "The Story of an Hour," Josephine, the character's friend, plays the part of the consoler, but the character does not wish to speak to anyone because it is human nature to shun others away when one is not "held together" (Chopin, "The Story," 554-555). Much like an increasing number of these stories, neither of Kate Chopin's works here have anything to do with religion or government, sadly, although I think religious ties could have been made in "The Story of an Hour." So, I now come to the American Dream, which is so widely interpreted by so many authors. The basic American Dream, once again, is to live a happy and full life, which would prove to be very difficult in both of these stories. The husband dies, leaving the wife to grieve uncontrollably, and, in "The Story of an Hour," her extreme sadness winds up being the death of her as well (Chopin, "The Story," 554-555). A Hero in "The Story of an Hour" could only be a godly being, coming to bring back to life the body of the character's late husband. This would, of course, be heroic because it would mean life again to the man and would keep the woman from dying of her poor, broken heart.

Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. "from The Awakening." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 491. Print.

Chopin, Kate. "The Story of an Hour. Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 554-555. Print.

Werlock, Abby H. P. "realism." The Facts On File Companion to the American Short Story, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2009. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. . 13 Feb. 2011.

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