Personal dissatisfaction and discontentment are a part of human nature. Modern literature is filled with the themes of discontentment, isolation, and depression. Louise Mallard from “The story of an hour” is unsatisfied with her life because of her stereotypical marriage. Micho Alvarez is unsatisfied because of the racist judgment by the American Society for the immigrants. This essay tends to provide a critical analysis which unveils the modern theme of discontentment and problems with relation to the unhappy life of Louise Mallard and Micho Alvarez.
“The story of an hour” revolves around a female protagonist named Louise Mallard who is ecstatic after getting to know about her husband’s death in an accident. However, her happiness does not last longer than an hour because her husband was alive. This short story reflects the internal torment of Louise because of her unhappy marriage with her husband Brentley. Louise is sorrowful for her husband’s death but delighted by thinking about the freedom which she will get in the future. Louise isolated herself in the room and “a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: free, free, free!”(Chopin 2). Louise’s joy reflects the discontented life has been living. She is hopeful for her freedom and liberty in her future life. In the end, Louise suffers a heart attack and dies after seeing her husband alive. “Micho Alvarez” is a short story taken from The Book of Unknown Americans. Similar to “the story of an hour” this short story revolves around the discontented life of Micho Alvarez. The protagonist Micho Alvarez is a Mexican immigrant who is traumatized and dissatisfied with the racial attitude in America towards immigrants. The Mexican immigrants are treated as “gangbangers and drug dealers [who] want to destroy America (Henríquez 271)”. He has devoted his life to the struggle against racial discrimination to provide identity and respect for immigrants. However, he has failed to accomplish his objective because he is still disappointed in the American system.
In “The story of an hour”, Louise is not contented with her marriage and feels oppressed by her husband. After listening to the news of her husband’s death, Louise thinks that “There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with…….to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature” (Chopin 2). She is overjoyed after getting the news of her husband. This shows that Louis’s marriage was a hindrance for her to accomplish self-actualization and contentment. She is hopeful for a sovereign future. However, her husband is alive and her happiness does not last long. She dies from a heart attack after realizing that her dream of a sovereign future has crumbled in an instant. Louise dies without getting her problems solved. She could not achieve her internal happiness. Micho Alvarez’s problems are caused by the racial injustice Mexican people face after coming to America to achieve their life goals. Micho Alvarez reveals his internal anguish by stating “I swear to God, I’m so tired of being called a spic, a nethead, a cholo ……….. Because they’ve been told to be scared of us.” (Henriquez 268). Micho Alvarez’s problems revolve around the root of these above lines. Despite his immense struggle, in the end, Micho Alvarez is still disappointed in the American society which does not change their behavior towards the immigrants. He is still unsatisfied with his life because his goal to eradicate racial discrimination is not fulfilled.
As a human being, I have also felt dissatisfaction in my life at crucial points as Louise and Micho Alvarez have felt. At these critical points, I felt anguish and lack of happiness to an extent that I fell into depression. The major event which forced me into isolation and discontentment was in my high school. My class instructor had a racial grudge against me. Though he would not show it in front of everyone, he would often snub me during class participation without any reason. He would reduce my marks in my class assignments without any reason. This caused a toll on my academic results and I went into depression. Then I shared this with my friends. They empowered me to report this issue to the principal. That class instructor got fired and I learned to face my life problems bravely.
Louise feels oppressed and unsatisfied because of her marriage and Micho feels unsatisfied because of the racial behavior towards the immigrants irrespective of their characteristics. Both protagonists fail to achieve their internal happiness despite their immense struggle. Micho could not change the racial behavior towards Mexican immigrants. Louise finds death as a way to achieve her freedom. In a nutshell, Micho Alvarez and Louise Mallard are both subjected to the inescapable trauma inflicted by the stereotypical standards of American society.
Chopin, Kate. The story of an hour. Jimcin Recordings, 1981.
Henríquez Cristina. The Book of Unknown Americans.Vintage Books, 2014.