Liz Janet's Reviews > The Awakening

The Awakening by Kate Chopin
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“The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.”

I read this book during my senior year of high school, and I am grateful for that, because without all the analyzing and discussion, I would not have been able to understand it and appreciate it as much as I did.

It follows Edna Pontellier, during a holiday on the Gulf of Mexico, as she has an “awakening” of ideas and self, amidst the constriction of Louisiana society.

This novel has many themes, impulse, freedom, search for identity, the role of women and sex, marriage, and rejection of tradition; making it into a Bildungsroman novel, as it focuses on the changes that contributed to the main character growth, rather than relaying on past accounts.

Edna is a dis-likable character, but at the same time interesting, most people hate her, and I am one of them, however she is such an interesting narrator, she begins from a housewife to a “free-woman.” What I have seen is that she is mostly disliked for her relationship with her children. “I would give up the unessential; I would give up my money, I would give up my life for my children; but I wouldn't give myself. I can't make it more clear; it's only something I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me.” She is seen as a bad mother because she is not constantly coddling them, she does not sugar coat anything, when her children get injured, they know that crying to mummy is not a solution, they must get up and over it, instead of acting like babies and crying about it like all other children in this tale. Just because they are our parents does not mean that they must give themselves up for our pleasure, that seems rather selfish.

“He could see plainly that she was not herself. That is, he could not see that she was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.”

There is big debate over whether this novel should be categorized as feminist or not, and whatever your opinion might be we must look at it from a non-linear point of view; it is a tale of self discovery of the oppressed, and if the mind cannot process such a thing, then picture yourself as her, and not just say what you would have done in her position, but truly analyze it, because everything is easier said than done.
P.S.: If you don’t want to read this book, then at least only read chapter 6, it is less than a page long, and truly brilliant.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
January 7, 2014 – Shelved
April 7, 2018 – Shelved as: favourites

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message 1: by Jibran (last edited Feb 15, 2016 10:43PM) (new) - added it

Jibran Nice review Liz. I agree we should see a story or character by inhabiting her world instead of passing judgements from our own vantage point. That's the point of literature isn't it, to enable us to penetrate into the psyche of others in a way no other medium can.

Liz Janet Yes, particularly with works that are meant to illustrate how life was in the past. Simply reading a history book will not give us the insight we might crave.

Alex Love this book!

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