Today is the birthday of Kate Chopin who was born 167 years ago in St. Louis, Missouri. Early tragedies in her life drove to writing as a kind of release, and before her death in 1904 she composed nearly a hundred short stories and two novels, one of which, The Awakening, is considered by many an early but powerful exploration of feminism. Chopin wrote it in 1899: remember, it would be another 21 years before American women were granted the right to vote.
I never taught The Awakening—had it on my recommended reading lists—but it seemed every short story anthology I ever used included “The Story of an Hour,” which, oddly enough, takes about five minutes to read. Theories abound concerning personal motives and reactions in the story, but recently it has been viewed within the context of technology and how the movement of information informs too many aspects of what would normally be the casual accumulation of facts. Or alternative facts. There’s no spoiler there—you won’t know what I’m referring to until after you’ve read it.
So if you have five minutes to devote to something other than beating your breast over the latest Trump asininity (boycott Nordstrom!), signing the latest Facebook petition (4.2 million anti-Trump signatures), or planning your next tribute to the brave souls who didn’t die—or even appear—at the Bowling Green Massacre, have at it. Besides, if you’re anywhere near central Connecticut today and stuck inside because of the snow, turn off the television and stop listening to the well-intentioned souls who keep reminding you that you’re stuck inside because of the snow. For five minutes.