Awakening By Kate Chopin

"Every step which she took toward relieving herself from obligations added to
her strength and expansion as an individual" (93) The Awakening by Kate Chopin
introduces the reader to the life of Edna Pontellier, a woman with an
independent nature, searching for her true identity in a patriarchal society
that expects women to be nothing more than devoted wives and nurturing mothers.

In this paper I will describe Edna’s journey of self-discovery and explain why
her struggle for independence is no easy task. I will also discuss the
relationship Edna has with two other main women characters and describe how
these women conform or rebel against a society with many social constraints.

Finally I will discuss how the issues brought up in Chopin’s novel are still
relevant today. The Journey The Awakening begins in the vacation spot of Grand

Isle. At first we believe that Grand Isle is a utopia, wealthy families relaxing
at oceanside, but it is here where Edna first begins to realize her unhappiness.

The first sign of dissatisfaction is when Edna allows herself to feel that her
marriage is unsatisfying; yet she must agree with the other women that Leonce

Pontellier is the perfect husband. Edna can now ask herself if she has a good
husband and is not happy than should marriage be a component of her life. Edna
has two close relationships with other males in the book but both prove
unsatisfying, and a block to her independence. The first relationship is with

Robert Lebrun. They swim, they chat on the porch and offer each other
companionship. This is a flirtatious relationship; a relationship similar to
those Robert has had previous summers with other married women; but different
because Edna, being a "foreigner" allows herself to take Robert seriously
and she falls in love with him. This proves tragic because during the course of
the novel the two will pine for each other but Robert not wanting to mar his
reputation as a "gentleman" moves to Mexico. Even after his return the two
meet for a short time and then again Robert flees before anything happens. The
second role Edna begins to question is her role as mother. Edna’s husband
scolds her for her unattentiveness to her children. Although Edna is fond of her
children she, unlike the other women on Grand Isle, would rather have a nurse
look after them. Edna says that she would "give up the unessential; I would
give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give
myself." Edna needs more out of life. She is moved by music. During that
summer Edna sketches to find an artistic side to herself. She needs an outlet to
express who she is. Edna sees art as important and adding meaning to her life.

"She felt in it satisfaction of a kind which no other employment offered
her." After the summer is over and they are back to the city Edna is a changed
woman. She makes many steps towards independence. She stops holding "Tuesday
socials;" she sends her children to live in the country with their
grandparents; she refuses to travel abroad with her husband; she moves out of
the Lebrun house on Esplanade Street; and she starts selling her sketches and
betting the horses to earn her own money. She also starts a relationship with
another man Alcee Arobin. He meant nothing to her emotionally but she used him
for sexual pleasure. Edna evolved above her peers she did not believe that
sexuality and motherhood had to be linked. The last step of her "awakening"
is the realization that she can not fulfill her life in a society that will not
allow her to be a person and a mother. Edna commits suicide in the ocean at

Grand Isle. Analysis "To a certain extent, The Awakening shows Edna at the
mercy of a patriarchal husband, a hot climate, a Creole lifestyle, and the
circumscribed expectations of a particular class of Louisiana
women."(Taylor,p.195) Edna questions these wife and mother roles because they
are roles she was forced into. She married Leonce not because she loved him but
because she could not refuse his admiration and persistence. This marriage
thrusts Edna into a foreign culture. She questions her role as a mother because
she is different from the typical Creole "mother-woman." Edna defies "the
central perception of her century that women are mothers first and individuals
second-or not at all. She never denies the value of motherhood...But she does
deny its supremacy over larger truths of human