Classic Short Stories by Kate Chopin

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Grade Level
High School
Length of Time
45 minutes to 1 hour

In this lesson, you will teach two stories by Kate Chopin. They are "Desiree's Baby" and "The Story of an Hour." These stories can be found in the anthology titled "The Awakening and Selected Short Fiction" by Kate Chopin. I have written a comparison of the two stories.


Students will learn:
To understand foreshadowing
To understand irony of circumstances
To see how Kate Chopin used these elements of fiction in her stories

Materials Needed

You will need the two short stories: "Desiree's Baby" and "The Story of an Hour" to teach this lesson. These stories can be found in the anthology, "The Awakening and Selected Short Fiction" by Kate Chopin.
I have included a short summary of the stories and an explanation about the two elements: foreshadow and irony of circumstances.
Questions about the stories are also included. The following information is about foreshadowing and irony of circumstances that Kate Chopin used in her two stories, "Desiree's Baby" and "Story of an Hour." Writers use foreshadowing to create suspense in their stories. They reveal certain events in the story before they actually happen. Writers also use irony of circumstances to create suspense for readers. They want readers to think something is going to happen a certain way because they want to catch readers off guard. Suspense continues to build because the readers want to find out what will happen. They continue turning the pages until the end of the story. However, the story ends differently than readers expected. Let's first look at "Desiree's Baby." Desiree and Armand had a new baby. One day, Desiree noticed something different about her baby. She told Armand that the baby's skin was darker than her skin. Armand and Desiree are white. Chopin uses a certain passage to foreshadow things about Desiree that may reveal what will happen to the characters in the end. Desiree told Armand, " 'Look at my hair, it is brown; and my eyes are gray, Armand, you know they are gray. And my skin is fair, ... Look at my hand; whiter than yours, Armand.' " These details show the reader that Desiree is lighter than Armand. The reader becomes confused and wonders what is happening. Readers caught a glimpse of the characters and their actions. Through these revelations, readers anticipate how the story will end, so they continue reading the story. Readers also wonder about the baby. They want to know how the baby's skin could be darker than Desiree's skin. After Desiree told Armand what she noticed about the baby, he told her that the baby's coloring indicated only one thing--he was part black. Armand accused Desiree of deceiving him. He did not want her to stay in the house with him. A writer uses foreshadowing to reveal certain details that lull the reader into thinking a certain way. Then, with the use of another technique called irony of circumstances, a writer wants to surprise the reader at the end of the story by making an unusual turn of events. At the end of the story, Chopin finally reveals that Armand is the one who is half-white and half-black and not Desiree. Just like "Desiree's Baby," Chopin uses irony of circumstances in "The Story of an Hour." Mrs. Mallard is waiting of news about her husband, whom she thought might had died since he had been gone so long. When someone told Mrs. Mallard that her husband's name was on the list of those killed, Mrs. Mallard was devastated. However, her attitude changed quickly because she was free to do what she wanted. Suspense continues to build, and readers wonder what Mrs. Mallard was going to do. The reader is surprised when Mrs. Mallard's husband showed up alive, and when Mrs. Mallard died after she saw her husband. Even though Chopin uses foreshadowing in her stories, she still catches the reader off guard by using irony of circumstances. Questions over the stories: 1. What is foreshadowing? 2. What is irony of circumstances? 3. Why do writers use foreshadowing and irony of circumstances? 4. Which character did you like the best in each story? 5. Which story did you prefer to read and why?


First, you will have the students read "Desiree's Baby."

Then, you will have the students read "The Story of an Hour."

After that, you will compare the two stories and the elements: foreshadow and irony of circumstances.

Finally, you will give the students the questions over the stories.


100 to 90 = A

89 to 80 = B

79 to 70 = C

69 to 60 = D

Below 60 = F

You can grade the students on their participation in class, reading the two stories, and answering the questions that are included in this lesson plan.

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