19th Century Epic Romances discussion

The Awakening
This topic is about The Awakening
32 views
The Awakening- Feb. 2015 > The Awakening- Chapters 33-39

Comments Showing 1-21 of 21 (21 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Angela (new) - added it

Angela Rohde (angelarohde) | 72 comments This thread is for discussing Chapters 33-39 in The Awakening by Kate Chopin.


Aashimi Bhatia (aashimii) | 23 comments I don't know where to post your thoughts after finishing the entire book, but I figured this would be the best place. What I have to say is not exactly specific to these chapters.

When I first read the summary of this book, I thought I knew what I was getting into. "... an era in which women were considered objects belonging to men ..." - yup, that's something I know all about. Except that it was nothing like I expected.

I've seen, and continue to see, women in a state which is much worse than what is depicted in this novel.

What about you all? Does the situation in this novel seem to belong to more than a hundred years ago? I'm just trying to gauge how far the Indian society has to go.


Mary Stevens | 16 comments I like your question, Aashimi.

I can only speak for U.S. culture, in which this issue was still relevant even 40 years ago. And while women's situations may have improved starting in the 1960s with access to birth control and a loosening of the importance of society's opinions about how women live their lives, I'd still say that some women today might feel that family obligations are preventing them from living an authentic life.

One tragic aspect to this novel is that Robert doesn't understand that Edna has no problem leaving her husband, and while it pains her to hurt the children, she would leave them, too, for a meaningful life (which would include him).

What are your thoughts about women's situation in Indian culture?


message 4: by Mary (last edited Feb 08, 2015 08:19AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mary Stevens | 16 comments The Beginnings of the Women's Movement (from enotes.com)

"The 1800s saw a change in the status of women (. . . .). As early as 1848, women gathered in New York State to begin addressing issues of equality. This first convention of women set the groundwork for the women's rights movement. Women's groups continued to organize to educate women about social and political issues and to allow a forum for women's discussions. While women did not gain the right to vote until 1920, these pioneering efforts gained a voice in society that would not be quieted."


Aashimi Bhatia (aashimii) | 23 comments Thank you for your comments, Mary.

However, what I meant to ask was that was the situation of women this good in the 1900s. Edna's situation would actually be desirable to quite a few women in India.

Perhaps the society I live in is more similar to that of the novel, which is why I understand why Robert did what he did. He understands that Edna doesn't have a problem in leaving her husband and would also leave her children for him. And that is exactly why he leaves her. He says "Goodbye, because I love you". He is more in touch with the reality of the time, and knows that he and Edna cannot expect to live a respectable life if they go through with her plan. They will end up as social outcasts, Edna more than him, since women are always the ones at fault. While these issues may seem trivial when the thrill of rebellion is fresh and there is passion in their love, they will eventually have significance. And this may be worse than the life she currently has.

The situation in India with respect to women is quite diverse, and I can't hope to do justice to all the aspects. I will, however, add some of my thoughts, based mostly on personal experiences, in a later post.


message 6: by Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition (last edited Feb 21, 2016 10:33AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition | 504 comments Yes! That is exactly what I thought while reading this book, Aashimi.
I was thinking at the beginning of this book that Edna didn't have such a bad life, she didn't need to work for a living, she lived in a mansion in New Orleans, had extended vacations at the beach, had servants to cook, clean and take care of her kids for her and her husband seemed nice, but once she experienced passion and intimacy, she knew she could not live without it, with her husband.


Glenna | 109 comments I agree Aashimi as to why Robert left Edna. Unlike Alcee (is that his name) who didn't much care about Edna's reputation, Robert respected she was married with children. His leaving showed he truly loved and respected her. On the other hand once Edna had been "awakened" to her true self and passions for life she couldn't return to her previous way of living which is the real tragedy. I did wonder what if she hadn't left to help with the childbirth that evening? Would Robert had left so easily?


Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition | 504 comments Glenna wrote: "I agree Aashimi as to why Robert left Edna. Unlike Alcee (is that his name) who didn't much care about Edna's reputation, Robert respected she was married with children. His leaving showed he tru..."

I'll bet that their love would have been consummated that evening and Robert would have left her afterwards anyway, but feel even more badly about it, and the ending would have been the same.


message 9: by Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition (last edited Feb 21, 2016 10:36AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition | 504 comments It seems like a selfish notion, if you are already married and have young children, to decide to live for yourself only.
It is also sad that Edna didn't come to that conclusion before she married and now that she has "awakened", she is stuck in a lifestyle she doesn't want.

I think her death by walking out into the sea was a final act of defiance and gave her the freedom she didn't have in life.
Edna had once said to Adele that she would give her life for her children, but nobody could take her soul.


Aashimi Bhatia (aashimii) | 23 comments Terry wrote: "Yes! That is exactly what I thought while reading this book, Aashimi.
I was thinking at the beginning of this book that Edna didn't have such a bad life, she didn't need to work for a living, she ..."


Edna seemed to have a perfectly nice life. It was comfortable, luxurious even. And even though Leonce complained about her odd behaviour at times, he didn't really try to stop her from doing anything.

I think the main issue between the couple was a lack of communication. And I'm not sure if that was entirely Leonce's fault. If Edna felt unsatisfied with the relationship she had with her husband, I think she should have at least tried to fix the issues. Especially if the alternate was giving up her life.


Aashimi Bhatia (aashimii) | 23 comments Terry wrote: "Glenna wrote: "I agree Aashimi as to why Robert left Edna. Unlike Alcee (is that his name) who didn't much care about Edna's reputation, Robert respected she was married with children. His leavin..."

That's exactly my opinion as well.


message 12: by Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition (last edited Feb 21, 2016 05:06PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition | 504 comments I think that once she realized she was in love with someone else, Edna really didn't want to be with her husband anymore, no matter what he said or did.
As it seems that divorce was next to impossible, I guess she didn't want to go on living.
I wouldn't kill myself over another man, but I am also twice her age and have mellowed over the years...


Linda (lindy-lou) | 12 comments Terry wrote: "I think that once she realized she was in love with someone else, Edna really didn't want to be with her husband anymore, no matter what he said or did.
As it seems that divorce was next to impossi..."


Perhaps you are indeed mellowed, but another way of seeing it is that you reflect longer and more rationally before taking extreme action. Or perhaps you feel more responsible for details in your life, such as children, who seem surrounded by others who love them, but I suspect who would be affected by having a mother drown and disappear from their lives.
And we haven't even considered that mainstay of 19th Century Fiction, the Difficult Stepmother. Yikes!


message 14: by Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition (last edited Feb 21, 2016 05:13PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition | 504 comments You're right, Lindy Lou. I couldn't imagine killing myself and leaving my children, even if I was Edna and had been rejected by the love of my life. It made a sad, poignant end to the book, but I would have been mad at Robert if I were Edna, instead of wanting to end it all. I would have thought "How dare he leave me and go on living as if nothing ever happened! I was ready to throw my whole life away for him!"
I think Edna had a certain immaturity in regards to her outlook on life. She had an awakening of her spirit and senses, and although she embraced independence, she still chose to center her life around a man!
She could have developed herself and spent time with M.Reisz and with her painting or other pursuits. She had free time, especially with her husband away on business.


Linda (lindy-lou) | 12 comments Terry wrote: "You're right, Lindy Lou. I couldn't imagine killing myself and leaving my children, even if I was Edna and had been rejected by the love of my life. It made a sad, poignant end to the book, but I..."

I thought of M.Reisz, too. Edna's awakening was certainly an awakening to the satisfaction and joy of creating art and living life as she found satisfying, rather than living life as her husband and household prescribed. Since she had broken away from her husband's "leadership", she had already achieved much growth. Would she really have thrown that progress away? We people of this time are brought up to recognize independent choices as being valuable. Perhaps Edna's time didn't share that with us.


Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition | 504 comments Oh, so maybe that's why the author made her die at the end instead of living on, independently?


message 17: by Sara (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sara (saragr) | 5 comments I feel like something is wrong with me. I didn't connect with this book like so many did. With Edna's character also. Maybe it was my frame of mind at the time. I definitely see how it was so scandalous at the time though.


Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition | 504 comments I thought the book was very interesting to read, kind of refreshing to have a 19th century female protagonist who wasn't a paragon of virtue.
I also liked the way it was written and the issues regarding women it brought up.
However, I felt empathy for Edna, but I don't think I would have liked her much, personally.


message 19: by Sara (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sara (saragr) | 5 comments I think it was my frame of mind at the moment. Something didn't click with me. I will try it again at some point and see. :)

But yes, I do see what you mean about a woman of the time and virtue.


message 20: by Mary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mary Stevens | 16 comments Aashimi wrote: I understand why Robert did what he did. He understands that Edna doesn't have a problem in leaving her husband and would also leave her children for him. And that is exactly why he leaves her. He says "Goodbye, because I love you". He is more in touch with the reality of the time, and knows that he and Edna cannot expect to live a respectable life if they go through with her plan.

Robert may be in touch with the reality of the time and believe he is doing a loving thing by sparing Edna from loss of social position. But he is not in touch with how Edna truly feels. I do not believe she killed herself because Robert rejected her. She kills herself because she awakens to the fact that the person she loves and hopes will rescue her from her captive life does not really see her/know her. He either chooses to go along with society's norms of women's roles or cannot see that he is blindly doing so. The caged bird at the beginning of the novel symbolizes Edna's feelings of being trapped in her life. Regardless of how comfortable we imagine her life to be, it was not working for her. Her infantile/drunk husband waking her up in the middle of the night to attend to a child who was not ill (with the likely hidden motive of waking her up to have sex) is just one example of probably many similar manipulations.

M. Reisz's testing if her wings were strong enough is another powerful bird image, this one cuing readers into a future test Edna will be confronted with. I believe she would have been strong enough to run off with Robert and live more authentic life, in spite of society's rejection of her. Doing it alone, like M. Reisz, however, would have been a life without love. Edna's needs for creativity, love, and independence were so strong that a life without them was not worth living.


Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition | 504 comments That was beautifully stated, Mary!


back to top