English 254 Class #2 Wed, Jan 9
Chopin, “The Storm” (1611), “The Story of an Hour” (handout)
*The structure of plot: conflict, crisis, resolution
*Plot structure relies on cause and effect: not what happens, but why.
*Two main characters: protagonist and antagonist.
* In general, the protagonist is the character who changes.
The antagonist is the one who causes the change.
*Minor characters often serve as mirrors or foils to main characters.
1. Who are the two main characters? Who is the antagonist and who is the protagonist?
2. What is the main (external) conflict? Is there an internal conflict?
3. What does the title mean? When you trace both the plot and the storm through each of
the five parts, does the progress of the storm parallel the progress of the plot, and if so,
what might this suggest?
4. In part I the “sombre clouds. . . rolling with sinister intention” introduce the storm.
Does this description introduce the story’s action as well—is the action sinister?
5. Clearly the storm sets in motion the chain of events that leads to the characters’
adultery. Does the storm excuse them in any way from responsibility for their actions?
6. Do you suspect your judgment of the characters and their actions in this story differs
from the author’s? If so, why isn’t the story persuasive?
7. What is the point of this story?
"The Story of an Hour"
1. Does this story have a conflict? If so, what is it? Do any of the characters exhibit an internal conflict?
2. Where is the climactic moment in the plot?
3. What might be the cause or causes of the "physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul" that Mrs. Mallard feels as she sinks into the armchair? Mrs. Mallard's face reveals repression. What has she been repressing? What are the social realities of marriage in the 19th century?
4. What kind of man is Brently Mallard, as Mrs. Mallard remembers him? In what ways is he like Josephine and Richards?
5. What does Mrs. Mallard see and hear from the open window? How do you react emotionally to this imagery? What does the imagery suggest?
6. What is the attitude of the author toward those who would comfort Mrs. Mallard?
7. How does Mrs. Mallard look as she leaves her room? What does Richards' "quick motion" at the end of the story reveal? Who is he screening from whom?
8. Does the ending of this story merely surprise you, or do you believe Chopin is making a thematic point?