Response #2—“The Story of An Hour”: 1-2 pages
Your second response for this class asks you to sketch out a “reading” of the
short story “The Story of An Hour,” by Kate Chopin. You MUST use direct quotes
to support your argument in this response, following MLA citation style format.
As we’ve been talking about in class, a “reading” is a hypothetical explanation of a text,
focusing not just on what the text says, but also what it means and how it means it. For
example, the “reading” that we produced of “Because I could not Stop for Death,” talked
about the poem as a metaphor. Our reading explained what the metaphor was
(carriage ride with Death metaphor of the funeral procession), but also addressed
how and why Dickinson might talk about death in this way (it makes a difficult and scary
subject easier to deal with, and uses metaphor to do this by comparing a bad thing to a
I’m asking you to give me the same kind of interpretation of “The Story of An Hour.” (It
will help you to follow the guidelines on the “Tips for Analyzing a Work of Fiction,”
handout when you’re formulating your thesis.)
Pick ONE of the following prompts and address it. Remember, these prompts are just
to get you thinking. Do NOT consider yourself “done” with the response if you only
cursorily answer the questions in your prompt. You have to make a coherent (even if
informal) argument out of your answer.
1. What happens in the story? What is the story “about”? Are these two things
different? Explain. And don’t just give me a plot summary: give me analysis of the plot
and its relationship to what the story “means” implicitly.
2. Pick an object or word in the story and talk about it. How and when does it appear?
What does it mean? Is it a symbol for something else? How do you know? How does
this help you to understand the story?
3. Talk about the title of the story. Why would Chopin name the story as she did?
Does the title mean the same thing before you read the story as after? That is, do the
events of the story change the meaning of the title for you, the reader? How is the title
related to the story’s meaning?