Summary: The Awakening By Kate Chopin

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The Awakening
Title: The Awakening. Significant because protagonist Edna experiences an awakening, leading to her exploration of her inner passions and desires.
Author: Kate Chopin
Setting: New Orleans; late 19th century
Genre: fiction
Historical Context:
- Published in 1899, women were still considered to be their husband’s property.
- Some women’s rights groups were beginning to reject the oppression of women and encourage them to take on roles other than just a housewife
- Takes place in Louisiana, a largely Catholic state where faithfulness in marriage was expected and divorce was rare
- Chopin has many similarities to Edna- she lived in New Orleans, had radical feminist ideas, and was very independent
Themes
-Identity. Page 13-
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When Edna buys her “pigeon house,” Mademoiselle Reisz warns her “the bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings.”

Motifs
-Houses: Chopin uses houses to illustrate Edna’s progression towards independence
-beginning: Edna’s home on Esplanade Street in New Orleans is large and extravagant. It embodies everything that high society expects of married life.
-middle: Mademoiselle Reisz’s house in New Orleans is symbolic of her independent lifestyle. It is artistic and isolated from the constraints of conventional society.
-end: Edna’s “pigeon house” allows her to pursue her own passions and desires without the influence of Leonce. Edna “descended in the social scale, with a corresponding sense of risen in the spiritual.”
Character development:
Adele Ratignolle
-Serves as a foil for Edna. Adele is the ideal “mother-woman,” completely devoted to her family
- She is the kind of woman who woman who “idolizes their children, worshipped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels.”
- Adele helps Edna realize that she will never be satisfied with the life of a conventional
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Even when after through a painful birthing, she continues to put the welfare of her children over everything else.

Plot summary
Leonce Pontellier, his wife Edna, and their two children are vacationing for the summer at Grand Isle. Edna enjoys spending time away from her family, learning to swim, painting, and reflecting on her life. She becomes friends with a flirtatious man named Robert Lebrun and they eventually develop real feelings for eachother. After becoming very close with Robert, he abruptly leaves for Mexico, which upsets Edna.
Edna and her family return to their home in New Orleans, and she finds her duties as a housewife unfulfilling and monotonous. She begins to ignore her domestic obligations, which distirubs Leonce. He leaves for New York on a business trip and the children go to the country to visit their grandparents for a while. Edna is excited about her new freedom and opportunity to pursue her quest for self discovery.
She decides to move to a smaller house that she purchased herself in attempt to gain independence. Edna also begins a sexual affair with Alcee Arobin, their relationship is passionate but purely physical. Edna’s friends and Leonce are worried about her reckless decisions that defy the expectations of conventional
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