The focal point of this paper is to analyze and elaborate the aspects of memory evoked in the works of Kate Chopin’s short story “The Story of an Hour” and Mary Oliver’s poem “The Black Walnut Tree”. The aspects of memory evolve in the context of their writers’ tone and style and their use of character development and setting. It can be stated that the two writers are quite dissimilar to each other and this makes the comparison a very interesting one.
The author narrates Mrs. Mallard’s unsatisfied married life is projected as the subdued conclusion statement in the story with the help of her memory. Her reaction to the news of husband’s death was natural but yet not natural as the transition from shock to grief was an extremely short one. After a while came the time to consolidate her initial outburst of agony and this was the phase of disorientation. This was the time she started formulating and evaluating her actual position in a situation that would be completely in the absence of her husband.
She hardy savored her married life and felt little emotional bondage with her husband and took the help of her past life with her husband and she used her memory to find her answer to the situation. Thus, “She was beginning to recognize…When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: “free, free, free!”” (Chopin, 2). This was her sense of freedom from a marriage that she had hated all her married life but never realized so vividly.
In the context of Mary Oliver’s poem “The Black Walnut Tree” the aspect of memory is present in the form of imagination or dream. However, it is actually memory of the poet’s father that vividly presented a dream that reminded her about her past and her memories of her father attached with the walnut tree which she and her mother planned to sell to payoff their mortgage. So, she saw “That night I dream/ of my fathers out of Bohemia….
What my mother and I both know/ is that we’d crawl with shame/ in the emptiness we’d made/ in our own and our fathers’ backyard” (Oliver line 21-29). This is the dream representation of her past and it was this memory of her father that prevented her to sell the tree as the tree contained the memory of her dead father. Thus, memory becomes the fundamental central point of the poem and it is memory that ultimately accomplished the poem to its ultimate conclusion.
Thus, it can be concluded that memory plays an elementary central force in Kate Chopin’s short story “The Story of an Hour” and Mary Oliver’s poem “The Black Walnut Tree”. Though the presentations are different and the tone varies by a great degree it can be stated that both the texts are dependent on the use of memory and the authors used this aspect to the premier arty manner.