MHSHS Reading Group discussion

The Awakening

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message 1: by Ms. Bryant (new)

Ms. Bryant | 11 comments Mod
One student said that they thought the protagonist was immoral for not wanting to stay with her kids. What do you think?

message 2: by Pelin (new)

Pelin | 3 comments I don't think it is true that she is immoral, because I don't think she meant she did not want to stay with her kids, but rather that she is not willing to give up herself for her children. This to me means that she doesn't want herself to be known as just a mom and a housewife, like the ordinary woman of her time. Therefore she is not willing to give away her life for her children, but actually live it the way she wants. Yes, she's a little rebellious, but do you really think she is immoral?

message 3: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 4 comments I agree with Pelin. I don't think the protagonists is immoral simply because she feels she doesn't want to stay with her kids all the time. They are her kids and she still loves them because they are her family. But she knows that with her husband's position and wealth her kids are well taken care of even if they don't have their mother there all the time. I think the protagonist just feels that she's spent enough time with her family and that they are stable enough not have her there for a while. She wants to spend some time focusing on herself.

message 4: by Cam (new)

Cam Ha | 3 comments maybe immoral isn't the right word for this situation, but there is definitely something wrong with Edna and her decision to leave her children. As a mother, it is her responsibility to do what is best for her kids, even if it means sacrificing the things a mother want. Additionally, how would her kids feel?

message 5: by Ruby (new)

Ruby (Redstone) | 4 comments I agree with both Pelin and Lisa. It is not immoral for her to leave her children, because it is a choice which Edna has to better her life. I also agree with Cam though, because immoral is not the word that suits the situation. I feel that she is selfish for doing what she did, because while it may not be exactly immoral, it is irresponsible and immature. She wanted to better her life, to find a way to be free and content, but she does do things a bit drastically. Also, one cannot really define what immoral is, because the definition for that is constantly changing. If she wasn't satisfied with her life, I suppose that she has a right to change it.

message 6: by Lisa (last edited Nov 15, 2008 06:41PM) (new)

Lisa Chen | 4 comments Based from my opinion, I don’t think that the protagonist would be considered as immoral for stating that “she would give up the unessential, but she would never sacrifice herself for her children” (page 115). It seemed like Edna would be portrayed as an immoral character because when we view the American lifestyle in motherhood, some feel that it is necessary to take care of the children before aiding yourself. The idea of motherhood signifies a turning point in life, where one mother has to sacrifice choices that would either provide guidance for her child or just chose not to. In this case, Edna chose to give up other unnecessary purposes, but not willing to sacrifice herself for her own children. I mean that doesn’t sound like how we portray typical mothers to be; however, if that’s what Edna decides what is best for her, then that’s her own actions. In addition, this would also be Edna’s turning as she expresses her opinion in “freedom of speech” and expression, as she begins to be independent and choose the paths she wants to be in as well.

I also thought that her kids may symbolize the marriage both Leonce and Edna shared together. One can tell because toward the ending of the novel Edna felt that their love and marriage began to dissipate. My point is that her kids represents their marriage, and every time Edna thinks about her children, she may think about Leonce. Now that Edna doesn’t have much affections toward Leonce, she may not want to think about him, but instead toward another person. Edna’s affections toward others and “The Awakening” process that she goes through seems to be an obstacle of what she purposely wants in life.

(hope that makes sense and I also agree with my other classmates as well)

-Lisa Chen<3

message 7: by Pelin (new)

Pelin | 3 comments I understand where Cam is coming from saying that it is her reponsibility to sacrifice herself for her kids, but i don't completely agree because I also think it is not just about sacrificing, it is more like exceeding the expected. Lia has a very well rounded explanation of the whole book, though I am not done with it yet, I also think her kids are symbols. Maybe of an internal conflict that is reflected by the thought that her husband leaves her bonded to that image of an ordinary house wife; which she wants to break out of.

message 8: by Siobhan (new)

Siobhan | 2 comments I agree with Cam, I think there is something wrong with her not wanting to be with her children. Is it not a mother's duty to be by her children? It is true that she has her own feelings and she's entitled to feel the way she does, but aside from that, what about the welfare of her children? Because of her carelessness, isn't she taking something away from them? The fact that their mother doesn't really care for them, wouldn't that impact their lives in some way, and every child deserves to have a caring parent. I think that this character forgets what her role in society is, and what the consequences are if she does ever end up with Robert.

message 9: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 4 comments Ruby has brought up a good point in that the definition of moral and immoral are very pliable. In different cultures there are different definitions because those two words depend on the norm of the culture.

Lisa C. also has a good idea of the children representing Edna and Leonce's marriage and love because many couples have children for that purpose. I would also like to add on that since Edna is starting to feel a loss of love and passion in her marriage, she is also starting to see her children differently with less love. But I don't believe that it necessarily means she has lost all love for her children.

message 10: by Cam (new)

Cam Ha | 3 comments There are two prospective of answering this question and i do not think there really is a right answer. Even though i have a different view on this situation, I also agree with everyone's else opinion; Edna just want to be independent for a while to find her truth self.

message 11: by Lisa (last edited Nov 15, 2008 06:48PM) (new)

Lisa Chen | 4 comments
To reflect upon Siobhan’s comment, “I think that this character forgets what her role in society is, and what the consequences are if she does ever end up with Robert”. I don’t believe that everyone has a definite role in society, but it is what the people think that portrays what kind of society we should have. I mean we can all be non-conformists, such as breaking the laws by smuggling illegal items, drinking under age, stealing, vandalizing, etc. However, we chose not to because we stick to the rules and laws the government provide for us. That’s the decision we preferred, knowing consequences won‘t be involved. But for Edna, if she thought about not putting her children first, then it’s her choice and perspective of how she views her society.

As for the consequences if she ever end up being with Robert and divorcing from Leonce, the society will portray her for not being committed I guess. Edna views another idea, where she believes she was not absolutely satisfied with her life. As a result, it would be up to her choice to alter it. If she chose to be with Robert, then no one could explain that reason better than Edna, herself.

-Lisa Chen<3

message 12: by Ms. Kim (new)

Ms. Kim | 1 comments How do you all feel about the father's role in the kid's life? And how is it similar/different from Edna's relationship with the kids?

message 13: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Chen | 4 comments
Ms. Kim actually brings up a really good question, which can also relate to another reason why Edna felt her marriage with Leonce was diminishing. In the beginning of the novel, notice how Leonce wasn’t at home all the time and that’s because he was traveling to different places. He tends to focus more on his work than spending quality time with the family. But then at the same time, we have to consider that Leonce might be the only one to stabilize the family in terms of the financial status. That’s the reason why Edna felt a lack of love given from Leonce, and at the same time Robert was able to provide her the emotions she was craving for.

I’m not positively sure if the father made any significant roles in being involved with the Kid’s life because he wasn’t mentioned much in the novel.

-Lisa Chen<3

message 14: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 4 comments I agree with Lisa C's last statement. Edna is very similar to Leonce in that he is never there for the kids and he goes to pursue his own goals which is to maintain his high position in society. Perhaps Leonce's actions had an influence on Edna's decision to try to pursue her happiness with Robert.

Also, in their society it is true that the men have to work while the women stay home and take care of the children. However, Leonce's work is so far away and he would be absent for days, weeks, even months. But shouldn't he also maintain his 'role' as a father figure to his kids, especially since they are two boys who need a male role model in their lives? If Edna is supposed to give up her goals of wanting a passionate love, can't Leonce also give up his overseas job to get another job closer by to his family?

message 15: by Joshua (new)

Joshua (Xfire) | 2 comments I disagree with the majority. I believe she is in fact immoral this will all catch up to her eventually. Who cares that her husband vanishes from time to time she is still married and needs to work harder on her life and children rather then sleeping around with this guy. She has way more important things to take care of and she is committing a moral crime along with a crime based on society

message 16: by Ruby (last edited Nov 25, 2008 07:23PM) (new)

Ruby (Redstone) | 4 comments What Ms. Kim asks is actually a really important question which I completely blocked out of my mind. I never really thought of it.
I've realized that Leonce was never really involved in his wife's life nor his children's lives. I think that she possibly felt lonely and upset that her husband was never there for her,and that she never had a male figure to listen to what she had to say.

I finished reading the book, and well, I realize that Edna's husband wasn't really important, and I think that there was a reason to his leaving. Since he wasn't such an important character, I believe that the author was trying to push him aside so that the reader would not think that Edna's doings soley had to do with her husband's absences. It seems that the author is trying to explain how a woman feels toward every human being, and that includes men, women, her children, and the joys and pleasures which she chooses to have.

message 17: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 4 comments I have also finished reading the book. I believe that Kate Chopin wanted to show how every person, especially women, can have a time in their life when they question themselves and want to go on an adventure to find themselves and what inspires them to live. Every person is an individual and wants to always remain that way. Even if they begin to care about other people, such as Edna with her husband and children, they can still put themselves above all else. This is shown on page 351, "She thought of Leonce and the children. They were a part of her life. But they need not have thought that they could possess her, body and soul." Through Edna, Chopin shows that there is a time in every person's life when they realize how to truly live through all of life's obstacles.

message 18: by Ruby (new)

Ruby (Redstone) | 4 comments I have another final reaction. ^_^
I enjoyed reading the book, but I was definitely upset about the ending.
I thought that it could have been way better. In general, this is a book I enjoyed because it spoke of finding yourself, and well mostly self-discovery. Perhaps Edna found her way in all of the wrong places, because she left her husband and her children, but nonetheless, she freed herself from the chains of life. That is something which everyone someday would want to do. Find themselves.
I too, wish to find myself, and I have not yet done that, and reading this book kind of made me think a bit more about that.
Kate Chopin wanted to express how several women feel after they are tied to something in life. It is not so easy to get rid of something that requires attention, like children.
I have realized that every person can find themselves at some point, even if that means leaving something important behind.

message 19: by Lisa (last edited Nov 25, 2008 07:42PM) (new)

Lisa Chen | 4 comments Final Response:

“When first published in 1899, The Awakening shocked readers with its honest treatment of female marital infidelity”.

In my opinion, the description of “female marital infidelity” may have been depicted as the norm in today’s society, where it wasn’t considered to be as appalling compared to the past. In this century, it is actually okay to be divorced once or multiple times; however, when it comes to dealing with the status of religion, marriage is viewed as being faithful and this prolong love term between two couples.

Edna would be characterized as a women who was courageous, keen, and an outspoken character. The author, Kate Chopin, purposely created Edna to symbolize that women too can have their own “FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION”. This seems to be the main point out of this novel, including Edna’s process of “Awakening”. This character goes through various of emotions that would conflict with her marriage, but at the same time she learns the development of self-discovery. She may not even know at some point of the consequences of her actions till the very end of the novel. I believed Edna just realized she can alternate her lifestyle just by divorcing from her husband, but it takes courage during that time period to revolt against the Creole’s religion procedure of marriage.

I concur with Lisa H.’s statement in which “there is a time in every person's life when they realize how to truly live through all of life's obstacles”. This reflects upon Edna’s role in just being the mother figure of her children and the wife of Leonce. Although, Edna may portray her family to be an obstacle toward her life, but still, at the same time, have to live through her life in being discontent about her marriage lifestyle.

-Lisa Chen<3

message 20: by Cam (new)

Cam Ha | 3 comments Just finished the book a few minutes ago and i must say, it was better than expected. It started off slow, but once Robert left to Mexico, it picked up and from there, the book was great. I especially like the ending when the Chopin describes how she swam out far to the ocean naked, it was symbolic.

I also acknowledged her decision to leave her husband and children to live in a place of her own, especially at that time period.

message 21: by Pelin (new)

Pelin | 3 comments I agree that the book started out slow, only because it was made up of characterization rather then plot. Towards the ending though, we see more of one character, who is Edna, and her relationship with certain few men. That made it easier to make connections to events and characters.

Although this book is during the feminist movement, Edna is a complex character, and seems like she was yet realizing her own potential, therefore confused about what she wants to do with her life. She was torn between the desire to fallow her love (Robert), and the guilt of leaving her husband behind, and took comfort in a relationship with Aerobin. After all this, I think the ending was perfect, because Edna was totally awakened to everything she dreamt to do, and there was nothing much left. She became so free that she could not understand the beauty behind freedom, and that’s when she walked into the water, drowning all her past with her.

Also the ending was special because after all her struggle and finally openly expressing her love to Robert, Robert leaves because the love could not last. This is a metaphor for society not being ready for this kind of change. A very interesting quote, "A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water," symbolizes Edna. She was the bird flying free in the sky, but then she became the bird with the broken wing, in which there was no way to fly again, and the only solution was to drown.

message 22: by Siobhan (new)

Siobhan | 2 comments In response to Ms.Kim's question, in the beginning of the novel, Leonce seemed to show concern for the children, he spent most of his time away, and wasn't really mentioned in the book later on. Edna didn't really have any concern for the welfare of her children at all compared to Leonce. I think when the children were left with their grandmother and didn't live with their parents anymore, it signified the relationship between Leonce and Edna. The love between them didn't exist anymore, the children were like the "glue" of their marriage, so when she didn't have the children anymore, it showed a complete break from Leonce and her responsibilities.

Final Reaction:
Edna had a "realization" of things and it was her "final awakening". Her relationship with Robert wasn't something that was supposed to lead somewhere it was just show her the experience of love again. She walked into the water because she had fufilled what she needed and wanted, that feeling of love, freedom , and independence.

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