There are several common themes that run through the “Story of an Hour” and “Country Lovers.”
One common theme is freedom. Louise, in Story, certainly felt that she was free when she found that Brently died. He had treated her as less than him, “bending her” to his “powerful will.” In Country Lovers, there were several freedom threads. There was Paulus’s sexual freedom with the daughters of other farm owners, and then with Thebedi. There was the freedom that Paulus had and Thebedi didn’t. There was the freedom that Thebedi eventually got with her husband, and the freedom among his peers that Paulus lost after his trial.
Both stories feature the idea of unreturned love. In Story, Louise “loved him – sometimes” while he has a “face that had never looked save with love upon her.” This makes it sound like his is the love that is not returned, but what love did he show by taking away her freedom? Paulus and Thebedi seem to love each other early in the story, but his alarm and violent reaction to finding out that she had his child show that is was not love.
Change is a large aspect of both stories. In Story, Louise goes through a major change when she learned that her husband died. She went from being a controlled wife, to a free woman making plans for her future, to a corpse from a fatal shock of despair. Thebedi went from a child playing her friend, to an adolescent loving her friend, to a mother of his child and the wife of another.
Both stories deal with disappointment. Louise’s disappointment is much more evident and staggering when she sees Brently walk in and all her dreams of a carefree life where she lives for herself is crushed. Thebedi was happy about her baby, and was crushed when Paulus freaked and killed the baby.
Finally, both stories deal with death. Story deals with two of them, first Brently’s death and how Louise deals with it, and finally her death from his lack of death. Country Lovers deals with the death of the baby and Paulus’s social death.
On a literary level, both stories employ a fantastic use of foreshadowing. Louise’s heart condition is pointed out right away and ignored until she dropped dead. The statement at the beginning of Country Lovers that “the farm children play together when they are small; but once the white children go away to school they soon don't play together any more” puts a double entendre in play as well as the foreshadowing of the separation that comes between Paulus and Thebidi.