The Awakening (w/ spoiler)Posted: 2007/06/04
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. New York: New American Library, 1976.
If I had a tag for “feminism” this book would be under it. Actually, it’s more of a long short story than a book. Only 125 pages long Kate Chopin tells the story of discontented, tragic Edna Pontellier. A wife and a mother she is dutiful as both until a younger man awakens her inner rebel and sex goddess. You can see it start slowly when she states, “I feel this summer as if I were walking thrugh the green meadow again; idly, aimlessly, unthinking and unguided” (p. 17). It grows stronger when she disobeys her husband, “Another time she would have gone in at his request” (p. 33). Finally, the ultimate of rebellion reaches its peak when she is seduced by another man, Arobin. “He did not say goodnight until she had become supple to his gentle, seductive entreaties” (p. 100).
BookLust Twist: While Pearl doesn’t think anything really happened with Edna (” …poor Edna Pontellier…who doesn’t actually do anything but suffers the consequences anyway.” More Book Lust, Wayward Wives p 232), I strongly disagree. What Edna doesn’t do is be a good mother to her kids (they’re shipped off while she pretends to be an artist), or a good wife. She moved out of their home while hubby’s away. He’s left making excuses to save face (said the house was being renovated and that’s why his wife took up another residence).
In the end Edna commits suicide. She knows she’s not a good mother. She knows she isn’t a faithful wife. She can’t have the man who truly awakened her sexuality. Trapped in a life she cannot conform to she walks into the sea never to emerge.