Kate Chopin's The Story Of An Hour
Length: 1629 words (4.7 double-spaced pages)
Question #1 Compare and contrast women's roles and marriage in "The Story of an Hour" and "The Yellow Wallpaper."
Mrs. Mallard had heart trouble and is very sick. After the news of her husbands death she locked herself in her room and all she could think was she was finally free. She knew she would weep again when she saw her husband with his hands folded in death, but all she could think as she sat in the room all alone was of the many years she would have ahead of her to only live for herself: "But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely" (Danticat 138). Mrs. Mallard finally gave into her sister's begging her to open the door and come out. As they were walking down the stairs someone was opening the door. All this time Mrs. Mallard was thinking she was going to be free and when she saw her husband walk through the door she died: "When the doctor's came they said she had died of heart disease- of joy that kills"(Danticat 139).
The narrator of the "Yellow Wallpaper" is sick. Her husband is a physician and he keeps telling her that she's not sick. The narrator is kept in this room with this really ugly yellow wallpaper. She hates being left in there. The narrator lays awake at night and swears she sees things moving around in that wallpaper. The more she is stuck there the more she is intrigued. She starts to sleep most of the day and stay up at night to try and figure out what is in those walls. The narrator has to hide her writing from everyone of they will make a big fuss about it: "I verily believe she thinks it is the writing which made
me sick"(Gilman 185)! The story really shows that the narrators husband doesn't believe she is sick: "Bless her little heart," said he with a big hug, "she shall be as sick as she pleases" (Gilman 188)! As the story progresses the narrator starts to tear off the wallpaper to let the woman that is behind it out. She got rope and was going to capture her when she did come out.
The narrator had locked the door to the room and threw the key out the window so no one could get in. You come to realize that it is the narrator that is behind that wallpaper: "I suppose I shall have to get back behind the pattern when it comes night, and that is hard" (Gilman 193). She feels she has finally escaped from her old life and she wont go back beneath the wallpaper: "I've got out at last," said I, "in spite of you and Jane. And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back" (Gilman 193)!
Question #2 Two different stories in which irony plays a major role.
I think irony plays a major role in "The Story of an Hour" because Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with heart trouble and she comes to learn that her husband died. Mrs. Mallard's sister wasn't sure how the news of her husbands death would affect her. Mrs. Mallard didn't act as many women would: "She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept it's significance" (Danticat 138). Mrs. Mallard went to her room alone. She didn't want anyone to follow. As Mrs. Mallard sat in the room by her self she was trying to push this feeling away, but it kept taking over her: "She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will - as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been" (Danticat 138). She was sad about her husbands death, but she was also happy about the many years she would have left for herself. After a few minutes of her sister's begging she finally opened the door. As Mrs. Mallard was walking downstairs someone was opening the door. Her husband came walking through the door and that was the end of her life: "When the doctor's came they said she had died of heart disease - of joy that kills" (Danticat 139).
I think irony is portrayed very will in the story "Gertrude Talks Back." The narrator is talking to her son, Hamlet. She didn't like calling him that, it was the name his father had picked out. The narrator knows her son doesn't like Claudius: "I know your father was handsomer than Claudius. But handsome isn't everything, especially in a man, and far be if from me to speak ill of the dead, but I think it's about time I pointed out to you that your dad just wasn't a whole lot of fun" (Atwood 33,34). The narrator goes on to tell her
son about the facts of life and the way things are now. The narrator tells her son he should find a new girlfriend and experience these things for himself. The narrator's son tells her that he doesn't like Claudius because he murdered his dad. The irony of this is she tells him that it was her: "If I'd known that, I could have put you straight in no time flat. It wasn't Claudius, darling. It was me" (Atwood 34).
Question #3 Choose a character, characterize him or her then use four specific quotes from the text to show how that characteristic is illustrated.
The character that I chose to characterize is the Narrator in "Sonny's Blue's." One of the characteristics that he displays is being very self observed. He only thinks about himself: "And I didn't write Sonny or send him anything for a long time. When I finally did, it was just after my little girl died, he wrote me back a letter which made me feel like a bastard" (42).
Another way the narrator is only thinking about himself, is when Sonny is telling the narrator what he wants to do with his life: "Well, Sonny," I said gently, "you know people can't always do what they want to do-" (49).
Another characteristic that I chose is the narrators demeanor towards Sonny's friends. The narrator never liked any of his brother's friends. When the narrator ran into one of his brother's friends they were having a conversation. By the end of the conversation he didn't hate him anymore: "All at once something inside gave. I didn't hate him anymore" (41).
The last characteristic that I chose is how the narrator's demeanor changed toward his brother over time. The narrator finally realized that he had to open up and start listening to his brother: "I realized, with this mocking look, that there stood between us, forever, beyond the power of time or forgiveness, the fact that I had held silence - so long! - when he needed human speech to help him" (56).
Question #4 Analyze the poem "The Colonel", explain what makes the poem effective and give at least 4 specific examples.
In the poem "The Colonel" my analysis is that here you have a wealthy family who lives quite well to the naked eye. Once you enter the house you realize that it all comes with a price: "There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the cushion beside him" (788). The house seemed like the family always had something to be afraid of: "Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to scoop the kneecaps from a man's legs or cut his hands to lace" (788).
The poem is very effective because it makes you realize that life comes with consequences no matter what kind of life you live. It also makes you realize that you can only live a certain way for a short period of time before it finally gets to you: "As for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck themselves" (788). Life is short, you should live it to the fullest, only if you can handle the consequences later.
The end of the poem shows how living the life of politics can really make you go crazy. Although the life may seem good at first, is it really worth it in the end: "Although our century has seen remarkable advances in our daily lives, it has also been darkened by political oppression" (788).
Question #5 Provide a line by line interpretation of the poem "Dream Deferred" by Langston Hughes.
What happens to a dream deferred?
A deferred dream, is a dream that is put off.
Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
The essence and understanding of the dream is gone.
Or fester like a sore - and then run?
When you wake up, your dream eats at you, and your emotions get the better of you all day.
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Hughes is using food to describe the strength of how bad the dream could be.
Or crust and sugar over - like a syrupy sweet?
Here Hughes is using food to describe a good and happy feeling in a dream.
Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.
There is a heavy burden that stays with you.
Or does it explode?
Here the author describes a feeling of intense emotion.