I had my students write an alternate ending to Chopin’s story and explain the critical difference between their endings and Chopin’s. Most of the students coupled everyone off and gave a deus ex machina happily ever after ending. This gave me the occasion to talk about why Chopin was working without the fairy tale ending and what it meant that we all wanted to couple everyone off.
I used this story to think about how setting and environment work in literature. I asked them to think about the fact that it’s set in spring, and to work out what the open window and closed door of Mrs. Mallard’s room mean. You could also talk about the stairs in the house and her movement up and down within the house.