Class Discussion

Read two very short stories by Kate Chopin, “The Storm”
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and “The Story of an Hour.”
(Links to an external site.)

Choose one of the following questions for your original post, sharing thoughts on both “The Storm” and “The Story of the Hour”:

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1. Both stories use the plot device called deus ex machina, an outside force or agent that changes the course of events. What is this outside force in each story? Can you think of another story this semester that used the same plot device?

2. Although both are realistic stories, both create a dream-like, disorienting atmosphere that has an unsettling effect on the protagonists. Compare the examples of phrasing that help achieve this effect in the two stories. Comment on its effect on the protagonists’ perception of reality.

3. Compare and contrast the depiction of women’s roles in love and marriage in the two stories.

4. Compare and contrast the two women’s brief moment of illumination they attain in the course of the story.

5. Both stories have zero exposition on the setting and the characters and start right at the moment of crisis. What effect does this approach achieve? How would the stories benefit from having some exposition? What information would have been helpful? Why do you think it was omitted?

6. What is the nature of the conflict in each story? Who, or what, would be the antagonist?

7. Are the stories’ endings unexpected? Was there any foreshadowing?

8. According to a famous literary critic Elaine Showalter, Feminist phase took place after the “Feminine phase,” from 1880 to 1920, wherein “women are historically enabled to reject the accommodating postures of femininity and to use literature to dramatize the ordeals of wronged womanhood” (Elaine Showalter, “Towards a Feminist Poetics”). This is exactly the time period when Kate Chopin wrote all of her works. Would you say the two stories you’ve read “reject the accommodating postures of femininity”? How? What “ordeals of wronged womanhood” are dramatized in these two works? What other stories this semester exemplify the Feminist phase?

9. In both stories, social constraints determined by the historical period limit the women’s options. How do the two stories comment on the women’s options to break free of the limits that social institutions impose on them?

10. In what way does the weather act as a character in each story? Does it help or harm the other characters? Whose side is it on? Use specific examples of the descriptive language from each story to illustrate your point.

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