Literary Quote of the Day: “The Joy that Kills”

Today’s literary quote of the day involves an ironic short story from a great writer of ironic short stories. It’s from Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour.”

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Set the scene: Louise Mallard loves her husband and his tragic, sudden death shocks Mrs. Mallard into a state of…….joy. What the heck?!?!

We’ll let her explain: “Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own. She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long.”

Literary Classroom Application

What a great opportunity to teach irony and an even better opportunity to explain historical context. For those of you looking for an irony lesson plan, check out the show notes and/or listen to the complete podcast episode on “The Story of an Hour.” You could also go over to and find lesson plans for this story and others.

It seems cruel that Mrs. Mallard would find joy in the death of her husband, but an understanding of the social limitations on women during this period makes this story and Mrs. Mallard’s reaction more understandable. She is now free to do as she wishes without the weight of being subservient to her husband.

There are other historical contextual information that makes the story more relatable. This information includes the absence of cell phone technology.


If there’s anyone in this story who deserves your scorn, it’s the idiot who relays news of Mr. Mallard’s death. Dude, you better make sure before you share this kind of news!

This is an early incident of Fake News. Give the example of the Italian soccer agent. Everyone’s trying to be first and aren’t concerned about being right. Fake news doesn’t have to be about politics or show up on social media. Fake news has been swirling about middle schools and high schools decades before Social Media even existed.

It’s called gossip and it ruins lives more frequently than any false report on Twitter or Facebook.


Last Updated on May 30, 2022 by Trenton Lorcher

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