Part 1 – Narration Change
“Mrs. Mallard!” called out Richards, a friend of my husband from the living room. My sister Josephine helped me get up from the wooden chair I was sitting on while eating my breakfast. My heart is weak and isn’t what it used to be.
Josephine helped me sit on the brown leather sofa. Josephine and Richards sat across me with worried looks on their faces. Josephine held out her hand and held mine. I could feel the warmth and humidity of her hand. There was something she was nervous about.
“Sister…” began Josephine.
“Richards was at the newspaper office when the news came in that a train was derailed…” Josephine took a deep breath. She could barely look at me at this point.
“…and Brently’s name was listed among those who were killed.”
As soon as the last word left her mouth, I threw myself into Josephine’s arms and wept uncontrollably. My husband was dead. The man who I built so many memories with was taken from me.
We embraced for some time until my tears were spent. I kissed Josephine on the cheek and gave her a passionate hug. I stood up and began to make my way back to my room.
“Sister, where are you going?” asked Josephine with worry in her voice.
“I want to spend some time in my room,” I replied. Josephine began to get up from her seat in an attempt to accompany me.
“I wish to be alone, Josephine.” She sat back down with a worried look on her face.
I closed the door behind me as I gazed at the open window. In front of it, an armchair. Into this armchair I sat, nearly being swallowed by it. I laid my eyes upon the city outside of the window. I could see the tops of the green trees moving caused by the warm spring winds. In the distance, I could hear vendors selling their goods and the songs of both passerbys and birds.
As I fixated on the small patches of blue sky that littered the grey, cloudy patchwork visible through the window, an overwhelming desire to cry washed over me. I succumbed to the desire as I stared blankly at the blue patches, with tears once again beginning to run down my cheek.
Something began to form in the skies. I couldn’t tell what it was but it began to reach towards me. As it drew closer, it became more and more familiar. I attempted to resist it but my will, just like my body, was in no position to fight and it quickly broke through my defenses. “Free”, I murmured, almost subconsciously. “Free, free, free!”. The sweet words flowed like a river.
I took a deep breath and now I could think clearly. I will soon have to look at Brently’s gentle face for the final time. Brently had always treated me fairly during our marriage but my passions, ideas, and dreams, were always a second priority. I began to think further ahead. Think further ahead to when I could finally be able to live on my own terms. To be allowed to follow my passions, ideas, and dreams.
These thoughts filled me with an immense sense of hope that flowed through my body. Finally, I would be in control of my life. “Free! Body and soul free!” I whispered.
Suddenly, a knock came from the door. “Louise, open the door! I beg; open the door — you will make yourself ill. What are you doing, Louise? For heaven’s sake open the door.” pleaded Josephine from behind the door.
“Go away. I am not making myself ill, feeling better than ever before as I said this. I quickly recited a prayer asking the Lord to give me a long life, in contrast to my thoughts from a few days ago. My fragile heart could mean a shorter time on this earth, so I asked the Lord to lend me some time.
I just about sprung out of the armchair and with a newfound pep in my step, I walked to the door and twisted the handle. I saw Josephine standing there and couldn’t help but to smile. We were sisters but after my marriage to Brently, Josephine and I barely spent any time together. The duty of a housewife always kept me busy and unable to have time to be with friends and family. Now would be the time to make up for lost time.
We made our way to the stairs, with Josephine holding my waist, we descended the stairs to meet Richards, who was waiting at the bottom of the stairs.
I kept a close eye on each step I took, careful not to slip. I heard the door begin to open but my eyes were still fixated on the stairs. Then I heard Josephine let out a ear piercing shriek and had no choice but to break my concentration and look at the door.
It was Brently with a confused look on his face as Richards attempted to block his entrance into his own home. I was glad to see Brently alive and well but this meant the death of my dreams and aspirations. My freedom was stripped of me and the bonds of an unfair marriage were placed on me once again. The weight of this realization caused my knees to buckle. I collapsed and briefly felt the cold floor against my head as I looked at the lights above. I closed my eyes to visit where my dreams and aspirations now rested.
Part 2 – Comparing Narration Styles
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin is a fictional short story that centers around Mrs. Mallard, a woman who had just found out about the death of her husband, Brently Mallard, she is devastated at first but her sorrow soon turns into joy when she realizes that she is finally free from the bonds of marriage, bonds that prevented her from following her dreams and forced her into living for others. The story is written in a limited third-person narration. The narrator sees every event but mainly focuses on a single character, in which they have access to their thoughts. I decided to rewrite the story in first-person, from the perspective of Mrs. Mallard.
Although Chopin mainly writes about Mrs. Mallard’s realization that she is now free, I chose to focus more on Mrs. Mallard’s relationship between her husband and her sister, adding in dialogue, and to add what Mrs. Mallard may have been thinking when she saw her husband again.
At the beginning of the story, immediately after receiving the news of her husband’s death, Chopin writes this: “She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms. When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her.”.
I wanted to add more detail to Mrs. Mallard’s grief so I wrote the following: “ I threw myself into Josephine’s arms and wept uncontrollably. My husband was dead. The man who I built so many memories with was taken from me.
We embraced for some time until my tears were spent. I kissed Josephine on the cheek and gave her a passionate hug. I stood up and began to make my way back to my room.”.
I made this change because I wanted to make it clearer that Mrs. Mallard did truly love her husband. I also made the addition of dialogue because I felt that would make the characters a little more personal.
Following the initial tears of losing her husband, Mrs. Mallard retreats to her room and that is when and where she rediscovers her freedom. Her marriage had restricted her so much but with Mr. Mallard’s death, that was no longer the case. I didn’t change much from the original story, only a few minor detail changes. What I did change/add was Mrs. Mallard’s thinking.
In Chopin’s story, she wrote the following: “She arose at length and opened the door to her sister’s importunities. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory. She clasped her sister’s waist, and together they descended the stairs.”.
There is no mention of Mrs. Mallard’s feeling towards her sister so I wanted to add some in to make them seem closer. I wrote “… I walked to the door and twisted the handle. I saw Josephine standing there and couldn’t help but to smile. We were sisters but after my marriage to Brently, Josephine and I barely spent any time together. The duty of a housewife always kept me busy and unable to have time to be with friends and family. ”.
I included that part because I wanted to flesh out Mrs. Mallard’s relationships more and because I wanted to show the reader how excited Mrs. Mallard had become with her new outlook on life now that she was getting over the death of her husband.
Now we reach the end of the story and the end of Mrs. Mallard’s life. Chopin chooses writes the death of Mrs. Mallard with no insight into her thoughts at the time.
“ Someone was opening the front door with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard who entered, a little travel-stained, composedly carrying his grip-sack and umbrella. He had been far from the scene of the accident and did not even know there had been one. He stood amazed at Josephine’s piercing cry; at Richards’ quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife.
When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease–of the joy that kills.”.
Chopin decides to end the story soon after Mrs. Mallard lays eyes on her supposedly dead husband and offers little insight into the thoughts of the former widow after the surprise. I wanted to linger more on her death and to add what Mrs. Mallard may have been thinking before she died. I wrote: “It was Brently with a confused look on his face as Richards attempted to block his entrance into his own home. I was glad to see Brently alive and well but this meant the death of my dreams and aspirations. My freedom was stripped of me and the bonds of an unfair marriage were placed on me once again. The weight of this realization caused my knees to buckle. I collapsed and briefly feeling the cold floor against my head while I looked at the lights above. I closed my eyes to visit where my dreams and aspirations now rested.”.
I added this part in because I wanted to show what Mrs. Mallard may have been thinking when she saw her husband alive again, to make Mrs. Mallard a little more personal.
In terms of what was lost and what was gained from a change of narration type, there isn’t a world of difference. In the original story, we learn that Richards (Mr. Mallard’s friend) double-checked to make sure if Mr. Mallard was actually killed. In my version, this part is omitted entirely. So we lose insight into events that were beyond Mrs. Mallard’s view, switching to first-person.
What we gain is the characters become more personal through dialogue. Since we see through the eyes of Mrs. Mallard, the conversation may seem more personal. In addition, in my version, we get to see that Mrs. Mallard’s marriage had unfortunately kept her and her sister separate.
In conclusion, “The Story of An Hour” by Kate Chopin, is a story written in a limited third-person narration. I chose to rewrite the story in first-person, from the view of Mrs. Mallard. Chopin chooses to focus on Mrs. Mallard’s realization that she is free from a restrictive marriage, while I chose to focus on more on the relationship between Mrs. Mallard and her sister and her husband, adding dialogue, and to add what Mrs. Mallard may have been thinking when she saw her husband alive.