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The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

Teacher Guide by Becky Harvey

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Middle School ELA Category!

Student Activities for The Story of an Hour Include:

In Kate Chopin’s "The Story of an Hour", the main character, Mrs. Mallard, is a married woman with a heart condition. Her husband is away and news comes that he has perished in a horrific train accident. Her sister gently breaks the news to her, and silently, Mrs. Mallard rejoices. It turns out that she is not happily married and the thought of freedom from her bonds of marriage gives her joy. She assumes that she will be playing the mournful widow, but is she? This is a great story for your middle school students to read!

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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A Quick Synopsis of "The Story of an Hour" (Contains Plot Spoilers)

Mrs. Louise Mallard is a sickly woman. Her heart is extremely weak. So when her husband is presumably killed in a violent train accident, her sister, Josephine, and her husband’s friend try to break the sad news to her gently, as to not cause her heart to fail. Predictably, Louise reacts to the news with tears. She flees upstairs, locking herself in her room.

The tears subside, and Louise begins to look at all of the beauty in the outside world. She suddenly realizes that she is free. With her husband dead, she admits to herself that she will be happy; although she loved him at times, there were time when she did not, which made her very depressed. Now with him gone, she could go out into the world and be “free, free, free!”

Josephine, fearing for Louise’s health, begs her to come out of the room. Finally, she does. Descending the stairs, she is greeted by her husband opening the door, disheveled, but alive and well. Louise screams and collapses of a heart attack. The doctor claims that she was so overjoyed to discover her husband still alive, but the reader is acutely aware that she, in fact, has died because she was so acutely disappointed by the loss of her newly found freedom.


Essential Questions for "The Story of an Hour"

  1. What makes you happy?
  2. Can you tell truth from falsity?

The Story of an Hour Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Character Map Graphic Organizer

Characters drive the action in any story. Have students identify the characters of "The Story of an Hour" and use the description box to explain the character's role in a spider map. Have students choose an appropriate scene and any props that are important to that character. Students create a short bio for characters in the story, paying close attention to the feelings and actions of the characters. Students can also provide detailed information regarding the characters' actions, how they influence other characters, and how the main character changed over time.


Bently Mallard

Bently Mallard, the husband of Mrs. Louise Mallard, is reported to be the victim of a "railroad disaster." After Mrs. Mallard has realized she is happy he is dead, he walks in the door, shocking everyone (especially his wife) with the fact he's alive.


Mrs. Louise Mallard

Louise Mallard is physically ill, but her heart is not the only problem she has. When she thinks her husband is dead, she realizes that it makes her extremely happy to think about living life without him.


Josephine and Richards

Louise's sister, Josephine, and Mr. Bently Mallard's friend, Richards, are trying to gently support Mrs. Mallard while telling her about her husband's purported demise. They think she will be devastated by the news and worry about her heart condition.

The Story of an Hour Characters
Create your own at Storyboard That Mrs. Louise Mallard Josephine and Richards Bently Mallard Louise Mallard is physically ill, but her heart is not the only problem she has. When she thinks her husband is dead, she realizes that it makes her extremely happy to think about living life without him. Louise's sister, Josephine, and Mr. Bently Mallard's friend, Richards, are trying to gently support Mrs. Mallard while telling her about her husband's purported demise. They think she will be devastated by the news and worry about her heart condition. Bently Mallard, the husband of Mrs. Louise Mallard, is reported to be the victim of a "railroad disaster." After Mrs. Mallard has realized she is happy he is dead, he walks in the door, shocking everyone (especially his wife) with the fact he's alive. "The Story of an Hour" Characters

Example

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The Story of an Hour Summary


Copy Assignment



Have your students create a plot diagram of the events from a story on Storyboard That. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and help students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

In a five-cell storyboard, have students represent the major plot points of this story in sequence using exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. They should use the description boxes to explain what is happening during each part. Facial expressions and different coloring can really bring out the drama of these moments!



Example Plot Diagram for "The Story of an Hour"

Exposition/Conflict

Mrs. Mallard is sickly and suffers from a weak heart. Her sister, Josephine comforts her, concerned that the news she is about to hear will kill her.


Rising Action

Josephine and Richards, a friend of Mr. Brently Mallard, gently reveal that Mr. Mallard has been killed in a railroad disaster.


Climax

Mrs. Mallord, though grieving, realizes that she is now free from a marriage in which she wasn't truly happy. So though she mourns the death of her husband, secretly she's elated.


Falling Action

After Mrs. Mallard comes to the conclusion that she is now free to live a happy life, she and Josephine walk down, just as Mr. Mallard, unharmed by the tragic accident, comes through the door.


Resolution

Mrs. Mallard collapses, dead. The Doctor said "that she had died of heart disease - of joy that kills." He thought she was so overjoyed to see him that she died. In reality, she realized her "freedom" was never to be, and that killed her.


The Story of an Hour Plot Diagram
Create your own at Storyboard That EXPOSITION RISING ACTION CLIMAX FALLING ACTION RESOLUTION Mrs. Mallard is sickly and suffers from a weak heart. Her sister, Josephine comforts her, concerned that the news she is about to hear will kill her. Josephine and Richards, a friend of Mr.Brently Mallard gently reveal that Mr. Mallard has been killed in a railroad disaster. Mrs. Mallord, though grieving, realizes that she is now free from a marriage in which she wasn't truly happy. So though she mourns the death of her husband, secretly she's elated. After Mrs. Mallard comes to the conclusion that she is now free to live a happy life, she and Josephine walk down, just as Mr. Mallard, unharmed by the tragic accident, comes through the door. Mrs. Mallard collapses, dead. The Doctor said "that she had died of heart disease - of joy that kills." He thought she was so overjoyed to see him that she died. In reality, she realized her "freedom" was never to be, and that killed her. "And yet she had loved him - sometimes. Often she had not." Free, free, free! Free, body and soul, free! I've returned home from my trip. Why does everyone seem so shocked?