Many times, an author tends to reuse certain types of characters throughout their works. This does not only apply to one author but across many different ones. Because of this, there are a lot of characters that may come from different stories but share very similar characteristics. Although it may look like these two characters do not relate to each other, both Guy from Edwidge Danticat’s “A Wall of Fire Rising” and Mrs. Mallard from Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” have an intense desire and hope for freedom which eventually leads to their ultimate demise.
The first similarity present between Guy and Mrs. Mallard is their longing for freedom. Guy lives a life characterized by struggle. Jobs are hard to find and when he does get one, it is only temporary. His wife, Lili, has to make sugar water many nights just to keep the hunger pains away. This is the reason for the initial desire for freedom from Guy. He doesn’t want to be remembered as he remembers his father, a “very poor struggling man all his life”, but he can’t figure out how he is going to escape poverty. Lili assures him that he provides for them and that is all that matters, but the thought of becoming his father still haunts him. He begins to fixate himself on the hot air balloon owned by the Assad’s, a rich family in his town, “with the same kind of longing that most men display when they admire very pretty girls”. To him, the balloon is a symbol of freedom and the hope of a new life, but he knows in his heart that that dream will always be out of reach. He beings to make the transition here from wanting freedom to support his family, to wanting personal freedom from the burdens of his life. Guy fully encompasses his new mindset when he makes the statement that he wants to “sail off somewhere and keep floating until [he gets] to a nice place with a nice plot of land where [he] could be something new. Just be something new.” When his wife asks if he would bring her and their son with him, he does not answer and drifts off to sleep. Guy is ready to abandon his life. His emphasis on “something new” goes to show that he is now tired of the burden of his circumstances. The same thing goes on with Mrs. Mallard. The first hint we see of her longing for freedom is when her sister delivers the news of her husband’s death. Mrs. Mallard “wept at once with sudden, wild abandonment”, unlike other women who probably would have denied it. Although she may have been a little sad, she was overfilled with joy knowing that she could be free of her husband. She still needed to act distraught though, so she put on a display of grief. After going into her room weeping, she calmed down and looked out the window to see the world below her full of vibrant life. She knows that when she sees her husband again, she will cry because he did love her. But she found joy in that because “she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome.” This shows the moment when she finally accepts the moment where she becomes free. Mrs. Mallard had been so tired of living under her husband that now since he is dead, she is relieved to have the rest of her life resting in her hands. Both Guy and Mrs. Mallard have an intense desire for freedom in their lives. Guy wants freedom from poverty, but that eventually changes to freedom from his job, family, and even his life. Mrs. Mallard desires freedom from the companionship of her husband. Although she weeps for him, she is glad to finally able to live her life without any influence from her husband. These characters may be very similar in their objectives and internal feelings, but they do have differences too.
The major difference between Guy and Mrs. Mallard is the reason and manner of their deaths. Guy finally gives in to his inner urges and goes and claims his freedom. He steals the Assad’s hot air balloon and takes off into the skies. While everyone is watching, he steps over the sides of the basket and plummets to his death. This can all be explained through the words that Guy’s son recited, “we may either live freely or we should die”. Guy catches a glimpse of the freedom he so longs for in the balloon. He knows that if he comes down, then he will never again have that freedom. Guy decides to free himself from life by jumping from the balloon. In the end, Guy has chosen freedom in death. Mrs. Mallard also dies through her new-found freedom. She “breathed a quick prayer that life may be long. It was only yesterday she thought with a shudder that life might be long.” She did not find freedom in her death but the death of her husband. This is ironic also because she shortly dies after saying this because of her husband. After seeing her husband alive, all the joy she gained through the sudden realization that she could live without him was taken just as her life was. Guy was killed in the effort to free himself, whereas Mrs. Mallard was killed because she lost her freedom.
Guy from Edwidge Danticat’s “A Wall of Fire Rising” and Mrs. Mallard from Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour”, both share very similar characteristics. They are both characters that long for freedom from their circumstances and family. The main difference for these characters is how they achieved freedom and what effect it had on them. For Guy, he could gain it only in death, so he killed himself. For Mrs. Mallard, she found it upon her husband’s death, and it killed her to find out that he was still alive.