Louise Mallard suffers from heart issues and needs to be told of her husband Brently's death very gently. Her sister Josephine decides to break the news to her. Upon hearing the situation Louise bursts into tears.
Brently's friend, Richards, heard about a railroad accident at the newspaper office and saw Louise's husband's name on the list of those deceased.
Louise runs upstairs and locks herself in her bedroom, sits down, and starts looking out her window, noticing her surroundings, still crying.
Louise knows she will cry again when she sees his dead corpse. She knows he always looked at her with love and care. Louise sometimes felt love for Brently, but she tells herself to repress her feelings because they don't have any significance anymore.
Louise believes that all men and women oppress each other even out of kindness. She soon realizes that her husband being dead means that she has received the freedom she wished for. She is overtaken by joy and begins repeating the word "Free!" to herself. She felt as free as a bird!