Describe what happens to Edna Pontellier. Do you feel sympathy for her? Explain the story’s title.
The Awakening was written in 1900’s by Kate Chopin. The novel narrates all the difficult stages that Edna has to go through to become the woman she really wants to be. During her awakening she leaves her family, commits adultery and becomes an artist, regardless malechauvinist and the social constraints of those times, where woman were said to be a man’s belonging.
“Looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage.”
Edna’s relationship with Adele begins Edna’s process of “awakening” and self-discovery. This process accelerates when she comes to know Robert Lebrun, a man who chooses a woman, usuallymarried, each year to which he then accompanies her all summer long.
She started to do things she ever thought she would be capable of. She learnt to swim, and she realized how easy it was.
"How easy it is!" she thought. "It is nothing," she said aloud; "why did I not discover before that it was nothing. Think of the time I have lost splashing about like a baby!"
Being able to swim is also a verycrucial event in her life that pushed her into her awakening. She realized she could ignore the social constraints and live her own life, with no responsibilities. Also she feels like as she was a child again and is going to build her life from the beginning. When she tries to get out of the sea, it becomes hard for her.
“Once she turned and looked toward the shore, toward the people she had leftthere. She had not gone any great distance that is, what would have been a great distance for an experienced swimmer. But to her unaccustomed vision the stretch of water behind her assumed the aspect of a barrier which her unaided strength would never be able to overcome. A quick vision of death smote her soul, and for a second of time appalled and enfeebled her senses. But by an effort she ralliedher staggering faculties and managed to regain the land.”
This symbolizes that it’s going to be easy to live how she wants, but very hard to maintain. The sea is what gave her the main strength and bravery to leave to a side all her mother-woman obligations, so in other words gave her a new life, a life in which she wanted to live in, but also took it away from her.
During her awakening herbehavior starts to be selfish, she doesn’t want to have any responsibility at all. She just leaves her children with their grandmother, not even thinking if they might annoy her. She just wants to avoid the responsibility which implies being a mother-woman of those times. It also tells us that she doesn’t really love them, only a bit at times, but still she would have preferred not to have them.“She was fond of her children in an uneven, impulsive way. She would sometimes gather them passionately to her heart; she would sometimes forget them. The year before they had spent part of the summer with their grandmother Pontellier in Iberville.”
Maybe this behavior is a result of Mr. Pontellier’s constant pressure on her to behave like a stereotypical woman of the 1900’s and his constantsuperiority.
"Coming back to dinner?" his wife called after him. He halted a moment and shrugged his shoulders. He felt in his vest pocket; there was a ten-dollar bill there. He did not know; perhaps he would return for the early dinner and perhaps he would not. It all depended upon the company which he found over at Klein's and the size of "the game." He did not say this, but she understood it, andlaughed, nodding good-by to him.”
Mr. Pontellier is under no obligation to answer to his wife. He does what he wants leaving very clear he is the boss of the house; he can leave whenever he wants without telling anyone when he was going to come back. This could also be another of the many reasons for which she decided to start her rebellious awakening.
We realize that her marriage was all an...