Part I: The False Freedom
My health wasn’t in a perfect condition. I had heart trouble, perhaps caused by living in a male dominated society that offered women limited access to the outside world. However, my husband and I had a happy marriage.
My life was dramatically changed when my sister Josephine and my husband’s friend Richards gave me the lowdown in broken phrases about my husband’s death. They were breaking the news in a gentle, calm manner because of my heart condition. I couldn’t stop crying. I isolated myself in my private room and gave myself a space to consider the damage of losing a husband in a train accident.
I went through a sequence of emotional changes, and I felt empty. I couldn’t imagine the rest of my life without my husband Brently. I was sitting alone in my comfortable chair in my room for a long period facing the window. I gazed outside dreaming of how my life would fall apart and thinking of what would follow the disaster of Brently’s death. The internal struggle gradually intensified inside me and became unbearable- it couldn’t be supported in any capacity by any human being, especially one with heart trouble.
I was looking through my open window to see high trees, blue sky and birds flying and singing freely. I could feel the freshness of spring and smell the fresh dirt after rain falls over it. The view out of my window resuscitated me and I knew I had accept the facts and persevere. I said “life must go on”.
A weird feeling reached out to me while I was in my room. It wasn’t a grieving feeling, it was fearful and falling out of the sky. While trying to adapt to this environment whispered words have flew over and over my slightly parted lips in a quiet voice “free, free, free!”. I started to feel a sudden change. The grief and the internal struggle transformed into joy and happiness. I could see the freedom. I can be in control over my own life and live the upcoming years for myself instead of living them for Brently. Brently tried to be a good, caring husband but he imposes his will upon me and now! There will be no power will upon me. I have freedom and I don’t have to be obeisant to anyone. I enjoyed this new life and I kept whispering “free, body and soul, free!”
My sister Josephine reached out to me and knocked on the closed door saying “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”. I wasn’t ill but I was healing from the illness and the suffering I was experiencing in my married life. It was a relief to know that I can be myself and follow my guts to make personal decisions freely without being told what to do. “Go away. I am not making myself ill.” I said.
Eventually, I opened the door to my sister and hugged her with wide open arms. I felt the joy of freedom. Josephine could see the happiness of victory and tears of joy flowing over the edge of my eyes. I took the stairs down to where Richards was waiting. We heard the sound of keys in the door lock and realized that someone was trying to open the main door of the house. That was surprising because no one had the house keys except me and my husband. Behind the door Brently Mallard was standing in a perfect shape. Brently was away from the accident and had not even been aware of the train accident.
All the joy and happiness have been taken away from me, and I felt trapped again in a prison that I had struggled to escape from for such a long time. I passed out and they thought that was the joy that makes people unconscious.
Part II: Comparison “The Story of An Hour” by Kate Chopin
In my story retelling, I have chosen “The Story of An Hour” by Kate Chopin. The short fiction story involves four major characters: Mrs. Mallard, her sister Josephine, her husband Brently and her husband’s friend Richards. The background of the story is that great care was taken to break the news to Mrs. Mallard about her husband’s death. In the beginning of the story, Mrs. Mallard was expressing tremendous sadness and deep grief caused by the loss of her husband. Suddenly, the grief turned into happiness and joy after she discovered the missing piece of the puzzle which she didn’t know before the death of her husband. She discovered that she can be free and in control of her own acts. In the original story, Chopin shows more than she tells. The point of view is from Mrs. Mallard but the author uses third person assuming Chopin knows Mrs. Mallard thoughts but does not give the reader full access to her thoughts. I retold the story using first person narration and chose Mrs. Mallard is the narrator. However, I believe that this model of narration gives more access to Mrs. Mallard’s thoughts and can give the reader access to more rooms in the story’s action.
Chopin mentions in the fifth paragraph the transition of Mrs. Mallard’s feelings from grief and sadness to freedom and happiness. “She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air.” (P. 5). In the original story, the writer shows symbolic scenes more than telling about Mrs. Mallard’s thoughts. It is noticeable that rain, blue sky and spring life are tangible things that can be seen. The description of the scene where Mrs. Mallard was sitting and looking out of the window helps us to visualize and feel with our senses the future of Mrs. Mallard without her husband.
In the story retelling, speaking of Mrs. Mallard; her inner thoughts are illuminated when she mentions “I was looking through my open window to see high trees, blue sky and birds flying and singing freely. I could feel the freshness of spring and smell the fresh dirt after rain falls over it. The view out of my window resuscitated me and I have to accept the facts and move on” (P. 4). Using the first person narration to express these inside feelings gives more access to Mrs. Mallard’s thoughts. It also builds up trust in the reader’s perception. In this version of Mrs. Mallard telling the story herself we can understand better these symbolic events and interpret them as feelings instead of looking at them as objects such as the blue sky and flying birds that give a sense of Mrs. Mallard’s freedom and her new life without constraints from her husband.
In Chopin’s story when Mrs. Mallard opened the door to her sister Josephine, it wasn’t clear whether Mrs. Mallard’s tears meant happiness or sadness. It was mentioned “There was a feverish triumph in her eyes” (P. 17). Since the story was told in third person, the reader does not get an evident image of Mrs. Mallard’s expressions. In contrast, these expressions are mentioned in the retelling story where Mrs. Mallard says “I opened the door to my sister, I hugged her with a wide open arms. I felt the joy of freedom” (P. 7). It is obvious from this version which was told using first person narration where the narrator is the character itself that Mrs. Mallard was expressing her joy of freedom to her sister Josephine. The reader can have full understanding of the scene.
Towards the end of the story, Mrs. Mallard got an emotional hit from seeing her husband opening the door. According to Chopin in the original story Mrs. Mallard had a heart attack from the joy that kills and the writer mentions “When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease–of the joy that kills” (P. 19). Reading this news with third person narration does not give a serious impression of the harshness of the impact taken by Mrs. Mallard. But using first person narration to retell the story when Mrs. Mallard says “I passed out and they thought that was the joy that makes people unconscious“. (P.8) is helpful to bring the reader’s attention to the seriousness of the event and the truth behind Mrs. Mallard’s heart attack.
Finally, the original and retelling story versions give deeper meaning to different scenes and passages. I find that when a story is told in the first person, it is more accessible to the reader and grabs their attention and it gives clear senses and feelings. In comparison third person narration can make it harder to gain the reader’s trust throughout the story. Additionally, third person narration rarely uses a narrator who is one of the story’s characters- having Mrs. Mallard as a first person narrator opens up her thoughts and feelings for a reader to experience.