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In many stories the protagonists see themselves differently from the way other people in the story see them. To elaborate this statement we will focus on two stories; the story of an hour by Kate Chopin and the stolen party by Liliana Hecker. In both of these stories the aspect of the protagonist seeing themselves in a different way as opposed to others in the story has been clearly brought out.
The story of an Hour by Kate Chopin
The story of an hour was written by Kate Chopin in 1894. The protagonist in this story is a woman called Mrs. Louise Mallard who has a heart problem. On learning the news about her husband`s death, her sister Josephine and her husband`s friend Richard are having a hard time in coming up with a way which they will break down the sad news to Mrs. Mallard. This is because she has got a heart problem hence if the message is not communicated in the best way possible severe consequences might follow.
Both her sister and her husband`s friend are worried on the best means to pass this message to her because of her health condition. This is because it is not easy for anyone to hear and accept the news of the death of someone they loved, especially a spouse one has spent many years living together.
That is why her sister, while breaking the news down to her, used broken sentences and veiled hints that revealed the theme of the message but not its real content. We are told that, “It was her sister Josephine who told her, in broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in half concealing” (Berkove 153). Richard also had to be sure that the message about the death of his friend was true before telling it to the wife.
That is why after receiving the news of his death, he had to assure himself by another telegram. Josephine and Richard at this point see Mrs. Ballard as weak both physically and emotionally thus taking this news is going to be very difficult for her.
On receiving the news, Mrs. Ballard broke down into tears immediately and went to her room to have some time alone. While in the room she discovered that she was not really sad, but instead it is like she became free from her misery and will be able to live the rest of her life for herself and herself alone. In the story we are told that, “She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her……….
She said it over and over under her breath: free, free, free!” (Berkove 154). Instead of being sad she felt relieved and free unlike what Josephine and her sister thought. This is because she is the only one who knew the suffering she was undergoing in that marriage and that she did not always love her husband.
The Stolen Party by Liliana Hecker
This story is about a young girl called Rosaura who had been invited by to a friend’s birthday party. Although Rosaura thought that Luciana was her friend, Rosaria’s mother thought otherwise. This is because she was their maid and her daughter will not be viewed any different.
However, Rosaura had been spending a lot of time with Luciana, playing together and even helping each other with their homework. She had never felt any negative attitude from her friend or her family and this made her to believe that she was a friend and not the maid’s daughter and that is why she did not want to moss the party.
Her mother on the other hand thought her daughter was putting herself in a class she did not belong to; the class of the rich. That is why she told her, “The problem with you, young lady, is that you like to fart higher than your ass” (Gwendolyn 2007). Not trying to kill her hopes, she prepared for her a cute dress to wear in the party and even made her hair to look beautiful.
While at the party, Rosaura felt part and parcel of the occasion because she was interacting well with all the other kids except from the girl with a bow on her hair. This girl clearly stated that she knew all of Luciana friends but did not know Rosaura nor even heard of her. From her talk Rosaura remembered her mother’s words and admitted angrily that she was the daughter of an employee who somehow brought down her self esteem.
However her self esteem was rejuvenated when Sefiora Ines asked Rosaura to assist her in serving the food and hotdogs. She even had the privilege of serving the cake which made her feel so powerful. While playing charades all the boys wanted her to be on their teams. All this made this party to be the best one in her life.
While leaving the party every kid was being given a present; a bracelet for a girl and a yoyo for a boy. However, Sefiora Ines did not give Rosaura a bracelet or a yoyo but gave her money and told her, “Thank you for all your help, my pet” (Gwendolyn 2007). This made Rosaura to finally realize that she was just the daughter of the maid and nothing more. All her thoughts were just a huge illusion.
Berkove, Lawrence . Fatal Self-Assertion in Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour.
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American Literary Realism 32.2 (2000): 152-158.
Gwendolyn, Diaz. Women and Power in Argentine Literature. Stories, Interviews, and Critical Essays. Texas. University of Texas Press (2007).