freeaw Not Ready for Freedom in Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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Not Ready for Freedom in The Awakening

In Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, the main character, Edna Pontellier makes a very long, painful journey into her inner self. At the end of this journey she discovers that she is not strong enough to adopt a life in which a woman is her own woman and lives for herself. This forces her to choose the only other option available to her.

I think the propriety with which Edna struggles (and most often gives in to) as she begins to discover who she is and what she wants creates a thick, almost suffocating atmosphere of tension. So much so that I was relieved that she decided to take her own life, as it had evolved into a torturous existence.

I thought it unfair that Edna was
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Edna has the “fortune” to be considered the “sole object” of her husband’s “existence.” This is at best confusing, since Mr. Pontellier spends the greater part of his time exiting: for work, Klein’s hotel, etc. It stands to reason that Edna would develop a resentment toward this man who claims to cherish her to the point of obsession, yet performs a ritual “leaving” as if it were second nature.It was interesting to note that Edna and Leonce had only been married six years---one usually perceives an “awakening” to occur in conjunction with a “mid-life” crisis of sorts, and Edna and Leonce were young, vibrant people with small children.

This story is set in New Orleans, Louisiana (and surrounding parishes), and although Louisiana is certainly the Deep South, there are many differences, many cultural nuances that are peculiar to Louisiana alone. I believe these cultural influences play an important role in the “awakening” of Edna Pontellier. Creole women (and men) live by a different code than other inhabitants of Louisiana, and the entire Deep South, for that matter.. Creole culture is bound by a lust for life. “Le bon ton roulle” (let the good times roll) is an often heard phrase in Louisiana. I was born in New Orleans, but grew up in Mobile, AL, 150 miles away. I was keenly aware of the significant differences in the cultural attitudes of Mobile and New Orleans. Visiting New Orleans constantly only strengthened the pull and fascination the

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