I first read this book as a graduate student, getting my Master's in English - surprisingly I had never read anything except "The Story of an Hour" by Chopin before that. The novel BLEW ME AWAY! I read it again in more depth for a Women's Studies class while pursuing my PhD - and it had an even more profound effect on me. I have since re-read this book several times - both for my own pleasure and to prepare to teach it to both undergrads and grads. Kate Chopin is my favorite late 19th, early 20th century American woman writer, and I have now read (and taught) almost all her short stories and this magnificent novel. Although the obvious feminist ideas that run throughout this novel are the primary focus of most readers and teachers of the novel, what I love about it is the layers of meaning and language the novel and Chopin's writing generate, so that the novel can also be examined from the aspect of how easily we (readers, who also stand in for the larger society) assume we know what's going on with someone, how easy it is to jump to conclusions based on appearances and the "surface" view we have of others' lives. It is a fascinating book to teach because it provides the perfect example for students to pay attention not only to what they "think" is going on, but to pay attention to what is actually written and how it is written. Every time I read it, I see something different - it ranks up there with Jane Eyre as one of my all-time favorite to read over and over again books.