An Hour Is All It Takes
My sister could not bear the news that her husband, Brently Mallard, had died. Her husband’s friend, Richards, was the one that told us that his name was leading the list of “killed” in the newspaper office when intelligence of the railroad disaster was received. He had made sure with the second telegram that came in, that it was true.
At first, when she heard the story, she started crying her eyes out. Her eyes tearing, watering my shirt as she comes into my arms. I try to sooth her, without words, by stroking her hair back and cleaning the tears as they keep coming down. When she had let it all out, she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her.
I was left in the living room with Richards alone. The silence struck and there was still grief to be dealt with, for Richards and myself. We were crying from the news as well but then I began to wonder how my sister felt and how this can affect her condition. Hearing about her husband’s death is not an easy task to handle especially with her afflicted heart trouble. I wonder how she is …
As her sister, I had the urge to run up to her room and be by her side in her time of need, but as I got up, Richards grabbed my arm and says “you should give her some time alone, give her time to collect herself from the shock she just heard”. “Don’t you know? She has heart problems and who knows what can happen, just from the very news can make her unstable quickly” I say. But I agree with him and decide to give her at most 15 minutes until I can offer some sort of relaxation.
I offer him a drink to help calm ourselves down and we begin to reminisce about my sister’s happy marriage. “Louise lost herself a good man. He really tended to her and she looked happy about being with him. But then, I did notice there were moments where she looked like she needed space, not saying that it was a bad thing but maybe requiring some moments to collect herself from her reality”, I said. Richards says “Was she always like this, even in her young years?” I respond to him saying “She was always an open-minded person, more like free, in a sense where she’s her own person and had no restrictions on her mind but there were instances where it was all too much for her and maybe that is also why she developed the heart problems also. So I guess, yeah – she was. It doesn’t exclude the fact that she did love him, you can tell from her reaction too, that, she did.” He just nods his head.
Richards mentions how Brently used to talk about her, saying how she was the best thing that ever happened to him and would keep making references to her. According to Richards; Brently would say “My wife made me a sandwich just like that one, and it was fantastic” after he had seen Richards sandwich from lunch one day.
I look at the time and frantically get up to check on my sister. I go towards her door and I hear her whispering. I think to myself “Could she have gone mad or insane?” My ear is pressed on the door and then I hear “free! Body and soul free!” I start to tear again, now from wondering what could possibly be going through her mind! I knelt down to the closed door with my lips on the keyhole, imploring for admission. “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.”
“Go away. I am not making myself ill” she says. I keep begging for her to come out and after a moment, I stay silent.
It was only yesterday, in which I heard her laugh and perfectly happy, even while she is in ill health. It was only yesterday and I miss that so much from her already.
I hear her get up from where she is at. She has this look in her eyes, like this feverish triumph. Louise came to me walking, did not seem like she has been dwelling on her own husband’s death. She clasped my waist, and together we descended the stairs. Richards stood waiting for us at the bottom.
I hear 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. It had seemed he had been far from the scene of the accident, and did not even know there had been one. I let out a piercing cry and there, he stood amazed: at Richard’s quick motion to screen him from the view of my sister.
When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease—of the joy that kills.
On my road to retelling a story, I chose to retell, “The Story of An Hour” by Kate Coplin with the theme being about freedom from a marriage and confinement from her wanting to be free. The original story was about a woman named Louis Mallard who had just got the news that her husband died in an accident and she ponders upon her new “life” that she has, until she dies at the end. The way I turned it around was that I changed the point of view to Josephine, Louise’s sister, and started from there. The original short story contained a third-person omniscient that conveyed Mrs. Mallard’s thoughts and showed how she was kind of glad that her husband died and enjoys the fact that she is now “free” from her marriage, the retelling uses a first person limited in which I conveyed to Josephine’s thoughts and small background information from what is given by Richards and herself. I chose to portray Josephine to show what happened on the other side of the door from Louise.
I started the story from when Richards had told the news to both sisters, but all of it was from Josephine’s point of view and which she is also the narrator of the story. From where the story began, Josephine had just heard the news from Richards. I collaborated with the original story in which they are in the same time period and same moment but just having Josephine narrate. From the retold story “When she had let it all out, she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her.” Mashes in also to what the original third-person said “when the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would no one follow her” is in the same period of time. I had that type of similarity in the retold story to show how clearly it is switched from Louise’s thoughts to her own sister’s thoughts.
Throughout the whole story, I begin to use the word “I” clearly so that the readers can note the difference. Third person omniscient is “the narrative voice that renders information from anywhere, including the thoughts and feelings of any of the characters” taken from “Elements of fiction: The Formal Elements of fiction” by Gary Parks. First person limited allows the audience to see what this one focal character (Josephine) is thinking; it also allows that character to be further developed through his/her own style in telling the story, in which I did not really develop Josephine that hugely for it to be noticed. “As her sister, I had the urge to run up to her room and by her side in her time of need…” that quote shows how it is compared to the original story that had the narrator use imagery to show Mrs. Mallard’s grief and feelings.
Further on, I decided to bring Josephine to talk about her sister’s past and how she was as a young girl that can tie in onto how she feels for her husband and how she might have gotten the heart condition too. I mention “She was always an open-minded person, more like free, in a sense where she’s her own person and had no restrictions on her mind but there were instances where it was all too much for her and maybe that is also why she developed the heart problems also” in hopes of trying to reel in more of an outlook on how Louise is without her thoughts playing any role, from the original story.
I steered away from the original theme of it being about freedom and confinement but still having bits of it when I introduced her young days. From the original story, we have “When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: “free, free, free!”” I showed some resemblance to this by mentioning about her past “She was always an open-minded person, more like free, in a sense where she’s her own person..” I continued to say how her husband really loved Louise very much.
I wrote about how Mr. Mallard loved her wife very much, closely related to what the original story had mentioned “She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death… “. In the story retold, I say “Richards mentions how Brently used to talk about her, saying how she was the best thing that ever happened to him and would keep making references to her”. Both are very similar because it is from a different point of view to another character but different in narrative style that they contain.
I slowly make my way towards the ending in which all three characters are involved and, both the retold story and the original, are joining in from when Josephine tries to get her sister out the room, to all the way to her sister’s death. The ending has pretty much the same take because both sisters are interacting but also, like I said, are different in narration. Switching narrative styles can hugely impact a short story such as this one, because we do not see Louise’s thoughts and how it affected her in a positive way from her husband’s death. I switch to Josephine to show how the breaking news of the death affected her and Richards. We can explore and create new things with the many possibilities of changing a few details but still remaining in the story, just by changing the narration of the text.