Symbolism in The Story of an Hour and Clothes

The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin and Clothes by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni are two stories that tackle on the themes of freedom, selfhood, self-fulfillment, giving meaning to love and self-assertion. Both stories involved the concept of marriage as means of changing one’s identity. Both stories utilize symbolisms that represent things and ideas that the author wants to convey to their readers.

Clothes is about an Indian woman who waits for her marriage and her travel to America. The transition of the main character’s individuality from a girl to a woman and from a bride to a widow is described by the author through the clothes of Sumita (female protagonist) and their colors. The color and the type of clothes also reveal her emotions. An example of such a symbolism is the yellow color of Sumita’s sari, which implies her being a pure and sanctified woman despite the fact that she is about to marry. On the other hand, the color of her sari when she first met her fiancé was pink, which the author had used in order to symbolize Sumita’s purity and sexuality as a girl who is virgin. In general, clothes here symbolize the state of changing identity. In the case of Sumita, changing her identity occurred in two ways – through marriage and by immigrating to America with her fiancé.

On the other hand, The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin is a story that conveys the author’s view of the experiences and feelings of women involved in oppressive marriage. The story clearly showed Chopin’s view that every marriage can be oppressive and may cause anxiety and loneliness to the woman in the long run.

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The story utilizes various symbols in order to depict the author’s message such as the heart attack and the open window. The heart attack symbolizes Louise’s physical and symbolic problems caused by her ambivalence towards her married life and the anxiety she felt because of her absence of freedom. The open window, on the other hand, symbolizes the opportunities and freedom that awaits Louise after the death of her husband. While Louise was sitting by the window, she sees the blue sky, birds and beautiful scenery, which means that after her sorrow and unhappiness came the fulfilment of her dreams of becoming happy and starting a new life full of excitement.

Both stories have female protagonists that experience the desire to change their lives. They also show how the traditions and cultures impact upon various things like views of the people on marriage. To some, marriage is an opportunity to change the identity and to have a better life, while to some, marriage means imprisonment and living life without freedom. The stories have utilized symbols and imagery in conveying the ideas of the authors. The two stories indeed show how symbolism and imagery as techniques in literature have made the concept and idea more meaningful.