English 4, Unit 9: Life and Death

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English 4, Unit 9: Life and Death                                                                                                            Short Story Study Guide


Directions: As you read, complete each question below. Type or write your answers in the appropriate spaces provided.


“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin


  1. What health problem does Mrs. Mallard have? How could this be more than a physical problem? Make a prediction about what you think might happen later in the story.










  1. What has happened to Mrs. Mallard’s husband?











  1. When Mrs. Mallard goes to her room alone, what things does she see that seem to be ironic given that she has just received word of her husband’s death? Make a prediction about how Mrs. Mallard will deal with her husband’s death.











  1. Make a prediction about the “something” that is coming to Mrs. Mallard. What is the “something” that she can’t seem to hold back?











  1. Why do you think that Mrs. Mallard suddenly feels “monstrous joy”? How is this feeling ironic, and what does it suggest about the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Mallard?



















  1. Josephine is worried that Mrs. Mallard (Louise) will become sick. Does she have a valid concern? Predict what you think might happen here.










  1. Who enters the house at the end of the story? How does this affect Mrs. Mallard?



  1. How is the ending both ironic and serious?





“The Whirligig of Life” by O. Henry


  1. What can the word “settlement” mean? What do you predict it might mean within this story?











  1. Briefly describe both Ransie and his wife.










  1. Is it difficult to understand the dialogue (the words the characters say) in the story? Why do you think the author created the dialogue in this way?















  1. Briefly summarize the conflicts or problems that both Ransie and his wife have with each other. Do these problems seem very important? Why or why not?












  1. According to the justice, what does the law say about divorce? How much does a divorce cost? Explain what is ironic about this.



  1. Just before the papers are signed, Ariela asks for something. What does she ask for? Make a prediction about whether or not you think she will get what she ask for.



  1. How do you predict Ransie will get the money for alimony?












  1. Why do you think the justice decides not to say anything when he notices the details about the five dollar bill (rolled, etc.)?











  1. After Ransie and Ariela get divorced, what is ironic about their behavior? What does this reveal about their situation?












  1. What is the “lesson of life” that Ransie and Ariela learn?



  1. The story ends up where it began with the hen swaggering down the main street of the “settlement,” swaggering foolishly. How do you think this image helps to symbolize (or represent) the overall theme (or meaning) of the text? Is this ending ironic? Why or why not?





“The Story of an Hour” and “The Whirligig of Life”


  • What are the similarities and differences between the two stories? In your answer, you may want to discuss marriage, irony, and themes (or lessons learned about life).


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