When first reading Kate Chopin's "Story of an Hour," one may not typically be surprised at its ending, write it off as one of those creepy "back from the dead" horror stories and forget about it. There is more to this story than simply horror. The author is making a very strong, however subtle, statement towards humanity and women's rights. Through subtle symbolism, Kate Chopin shows how marriage is more like a confining role of servitude rather than a loving partnership.
Mr. Mallard is assumed to die from a railroad accident (Chopin 181). The railroad has been used to symbolize a transition, moving on, and change. The death of Mr. Mallard would be a transition from Mrs. Mallard being some man's wife to becoming her own person. Mrs. Mallard would inherit her husband's fortunes and the house; she would own her own property. For a woman in that era, owning land was almost unheard of, unless as a result of the death of their husband.
When Mrs. Mallard first hears of the news of her husband's death she barricades herself in her bedroom where she looks out an open window upon the square (Chopin 182). The open window symbolizing freedom, and escape; with Mr. Mallard dead, Mrs. Mallard would be free to do as she pleases and would no longer be forced to answer to her husband. Out the open window she looks out to the square and notices the new spring life all around (182). This story taking place in springtime symbolizes rebirth, a new beginning, and a fresh start... without Mr. Mallard.
Also out this open window of freedom, Mrs. Mallard is overtaken by the blue sky. The blue sky symbolizes God. As she is gazing into the sky she is strangely comforted by it, as if it were God who was soothing her. Even though Mrs. Mallard felt guilty for feeling glad her husband was dead, the sky made her forget her feelings...