The Awakening Book Summary

by Kate Chopin10

TL;DR

The Awakening by Kate Chopin explores the journey of Edna Pontellier as she challenges societal norms on femininity and motherhood in the late 19th-century American South.

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What is The Awakening about

The Awakening, written by Kate Chopin, is centered around Edna Pontellier's internal struggle between her nonconformist views on femininity and motherhood, and the rigid societal expectations of her time. Set in New Orleans and the Louisiana Gulf coast at the end of the 19th century, the novel is a pioneering work in early feminist literature. It delves deeply into Edna's journey towards self-discovery and emancipation, highlighting the conflict between her desires and the roles imposed on her as a wife and mother.

The Awakening 6 Key Takeaways

Edna Pontellier's Discontent

Edna begins to feel a sense of dissatisfaction with her life as a wife and mother, prompting her to reevaluate her existence and desires.

Summer at Grand Isle

During a summer vacation at Grand Isle, Edna forms a close bond with Robert Lebrun, sparking her realization of her own desires and sense of independence.

Return to New Orleans

Back in New Orleans, Edna's behavior becomes increasingly unconventional as she pursues her artistic interests and distances herself from her husband and societal expectations.

Edna's Affair

Edna engages in an affair with Alcée Arobin, further defying societal norms and exploring her newfound sense of freedom.

Robert's Return

Robert returns from Mexico, and Edna confesses her feelings for him, only to discover that he cannot fully reciprocate due to societal constraints.

Edna's Final Act

Struggling with the limitations placed on her freedom and unable to reconcile her desires with societal expectations, Edna ultimately takes her own life by drowning in the sea.

The Awakening Best Reviews

  • "Chopin gives Edna the freedom to feel and yet not know herself. The women in the novel draw forth Edna's intuition — they take the sensual and braid it with the intellectual. Eventually, the body and the mind are one for Edna." - A Contemporary Review

Top The Awakening Quotes

  • "The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings."
  • "She wanted something to happen – something, anything: she did not know what."

Who should read The Awakening?

The Awakening is ideal for readers interested in early feminist literature, historical narratives on women's issues, and those who appreciate complex character studies. It offers profound insights into the societal constraints faced by women and their struggle for personal freedom and identity.

About the Author

Kate Chopin (1850-1904) was an American author renowned for her short stories and novels, many of which explore the lives and challenges of women in the Southern United States. Her notable works include the short story collections Bayou Folk and A Night in Acadie, as well as the groundbreaking novel The Awakening. Chopin is celebrated as a forerunner of 20th-century feminist authors and has left a lasting impact on American literature.

The Awakening FAQs

What is the story The Awakening about?

The Awakening follows Edna Pontellier, a typical housewife in the late 1800s, as she challenges her traditional role and embarks on a journey toward self-discovery and sexual awakening.

What is the main idea of the book Awakening?

The main idea of The Awakening is Edna Pontellier's struggle for sexual and personal emancipation within the repressive environment of the postbellum American South.

Why is The Awakening a good book?

The Awakening is a good book because it portrays Edna's journey of self-realization and independence, blending the sensual with the intellectual, and challenges the societal norms of the late 19th century.