Kate Chopin And Awakening

A Style of her Own Kate Chopin uses symbolism and realism to enhance her theme
of social conflict in the lives of women during the nineteenth century. These
conflicts seemed to travel from one woman to the next, unnoticed by the rest of
society. Chopin used these conflicts as a basis for all of her short stories and
novels. This inevitably started turmoil about issues that never were brought out
before. This, in turn, opened the eyes of society to the individuality of women.

In The Awakening, by Chopin, a woman named Edna realizes that she is an
individual and has individual feelings. She and her family lived at Grand Isle
during the summer and her husband, Leonce, goes to the city every week, and is
at Grand Isle during the weekend. This allows Edna the freedom to do and think
what she pleases. A young man named Robert, lives at Grand Isle during the
summer also. He flirts continuously with Edna, and she seems to like this sort
of attention. Robert and Edna always went to the waterhole on the hot summer
days to cool off. Of course, they would never go when the sun was high in the
sky. Then, Robert would walk Edna back to her house and they would talk for
hours. Everyone at Grand Isle could see the attractions between Edna and Robert,
even Robert. Edna, on the other hand, did not see this attraction immediately.

When Robert leaves for the Rio Grande, Edna is left feeling depressed and
lonely. She decides that Robert wants nothing more to do with her, since he has
written everyone letters of his journey except her. At this time, Edna is now
living back in the city on Esplanade Street. Her husband is abroad and her
children are visiting family. She is all alone. This allows Edna more freedom to
meet new people without her husband right next to her. This was normal for Edna
since her husband was often tending to business. During time that Leonce was
away, Edna realizes that her life was not how she wanted it to be. While alone

Edna "awakens" to the fact that she is an individual and has individual
feelings. She also realizes she does not love her husband as she vowed to. At
this point Edna knew what she wanted, and it was not marriage to Leonce, but
divorce. She then moves out of her house without telling her husband. When she
does tell Leonce, he tells everyone that he and Edna were merely remodeling the
house and Edna needed a place to stay. He says this because he cannot stop her,
being across an ocean. Leonce’s lies just go to show that men had more
important things to do in life than please their wives. Wives were the bearer of
their children and rarely the apple of their husband’s eyes. Edna inevitably
tells her women – friends what is really happening; that she is leaving her
husband. All of these women tell her of what she is about to do to her life,
reputation, and her children. Edna feels that she should come before her
husband, but walks a thin line when asked if she puts her children before
herself. When Robert returns to see Edna, she is full of excitement. When Robert
learns that she lives alone and is away form Leonce, they share a special moment
together. It was not accepted, during the nineteenth century, for women to
divorce and remarry, Edna felt torn and weak. She does not know what to do with
her life. In the end, She walks into the ocean and swims until she can swim no
further. It is inferred, in this, that Edna drowns. In Edna’s drowning there
is a lot of symbolism. Her death shows, in an odd way, the birth of women’s
freedom of individuality. Her choice was to sacrifice her life because her fight
for individuality and freedom had failed. She knew she would never be accepted
being the extremist that society would label her as. Yet, now everyday, you see
women who have divorced and remarried. Her death was a plea for women to
understand their individuality and freedom. In "Desiree’s Baby" Chopin
uses themes, such as, independence of women and marriage between people of two
different races. When Desiree’s husband notices that his child has a black
tint to him, he feels that she has hidden something from him. Desiree’s
feelings overcome her and she drowns herself and her child. Again, symbolism is
a