Kate Chopin's Short Stories

The Death of the Maiden Motif in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" and "The Story of an Hour" College

Author Joyce Carol Oates of “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” and author Kate Chopin of “The Story of an Hour" use the “death of the maiden” motif effectively to support a theme of unwarranted patriarchy throughout their writing. Both authors use this motif effectively by portraying men as death, who render their women victims as helpless and vulnerable. The connection both these authors make to “death of the maiden” motif does not become clear until the end of each story, however.

Oates in “Where…” begins her story off by characterizing Connie as a relatively independent and rebellious young teenager. Connie often sneaks off with her girlfriends and sometimes goes off to meet young boys. Her summer nights were filled with “[running] across, breathless with daring” (Oates 315). During one of this escapades, Connie comes across a rather peculiar man that tells Connie “Gonna get you, baby” (Oates 316). Connie quickly forgets the encounter. Oates most likely introduced Connie in this way to depict her as someone very innocent and free, and Connie’s disregard of the odd man is another example of her innocence.

In “The Story of an Hour”, the story begins off with Mrs. Mallard discovering that her husband has died. She...

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