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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


Copy Assignment



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

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a character map for the major characters.


  1. Identify the major characters in "The Story of an Hour" and type their names into the different title boxes.
  2. Choose a character from the 1600s to 1800s" tab to represent each of the literary characters.
    • Select colors and a pose appropriate to story and character traits.
  3. Choose a scene or background that makes sense for the character.
  4. Fill in descriptions of each character. Pay close attention to feelings, actions, and influence on other characters.
  5. Save and submit the assignment.


Spider Character Map

Example

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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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

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of The Story of an Hour.


  1. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.



Story Outline Storyboard Template

Example

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Ironic Twists Activity

One of the most-taught literary terms is irony. In fiction, and in life, irony is all around. Common types of irony are: verbal, situational, and dramatic. It is critical that students distinguish between the types of irony. Asking students to create storyboards that depict each type of irony makes teaching these elements a breeze.

The entire short story, "The Story of an Hour", is one long set up for an ironic twist. Have students create a storyboard using descriptive labels to show what the dramatic and situational irony brought about by the unexpected end.



Situational Irony

The difference between what is expected to happen and what actually happens.


Ironic Twist
While Mrs. Mallard is secretly reveling in the thought of her husband's death in the train accident, he miraculously walks away from it.



Dramatic Irony

The reader is more aware of what is happening than a character.


Ironic Twist
Everyone believes Mrs. Mallard died from the "happy" shock that her husband was alive. In truth, her shock was that of massive disappointment and sadness.


The Story of an Hour - Irony

Example

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Prefer a different language?

•   (English) The Story of an Hour   •   (Español) La Historia de una Hora   •   (Français) L'histoire D'une Heure   •   (Deutsch) Die Geschichte Einer Stunde   •   (Italiana) La Storia di Un'ora   •   (Nederlands) Het Verhaal van een Hour   •   (Português) A História de uma Hora