Table of Contents Plot Overview The Awakening opens in the late s in Grand Isle, a summer holiday resort popular with the wealthy inhabitants of nearby New Orleans.
Her devotion to that purpose causes friction with her friends and family, and also conflicts with the dominant values of her time.
Edna Pontellier's story takes place in s Louisiana, within the upper-class Creole society. They are staying at a pension, a sort of boarding house where each family has their own cottage but eat together in a main dining hall. Also staying at the pension is the Ratignolle family; Madame Ratignolle is a close friend of Edna's, although their philosophies and attitudes toward child rearing differ fundamentally.
Madame Ratignolle is the epitome of a "mother-woman," gladly sacrificing a distinct personal identity to devote her entire being to the care of her children, husband, and household. In contrast to Madame Ratignolle's character is Mademoiselle Reisz, a brilliant pianist also vacationing on Grand Isle.
Although Mademoiselle Reisz offends almost everyone with her brutal assessments of others, she likes Edna, and they become friends. Mademoiselle Reisz's piano performance stirs Edna deeply, awakening her capacity for passion and engendering the process of personal discovery that Edna undertakes — almost accidentally — that summer.
Another Grand Isle vacationer is the young and charming Robert Lebrun. Robert devotes himself each summer season to a different woman, usually married, in a sort of mock romance that no one takes seriously.
This summer, Edna is the object of his attentions. As Edna begins the process of identifying her true self, the self that exists apart from the identity she maintains as a wife and mother, Robert unknowingly encourages her by indulging her emerging sensuality.
Unexpectedly, Robert and Edna become intensely infatuated with each other by summer's end. The sudden seriousness of his romantic feelings for her compels him to follow through on his oft-stated intention to go to Mexico to seek his fortune.
Edna is distraught at his departure, remaining obsessed with him long after she and her family have returned to New Orleans. As a result of her continuing process of self-discovery, she becomes almost capricious in meeting her desires and needs, no longer putting appearances first. Always interested in art, she begins spending more time painting and sketching portraits than on household and social duties.
Edna continues her friendships with Mademoiselle Reisz and the pregnant Madame Ratignolle. Mademoiselle Reisz receives letters from Robert, which she allows Edna to read. Her heart remains with Robert, however, and she is delighted to learn that he is soon returning to New Orleans.
Much to her distress, she encounters Robert accidentally, when he comes to visit Mademoiselle Reisz while Edna happens to be there. She is hurt that he did not seek her out as soon as he returned. Over the next weeks he tries to maintain emotional and physical distance from Edna because she is a married woman, but she ultimately forces the issue by kissing him, and he confesses his love to her.
Edna tries to express to Robert that she is utterly indifferent to the social prohibitions that forbid their love; she feels herself to be an independent woman. Before she can explain herself, however, she is called away to attend Madame Ratignolle's labor and delivery, at the end of which Madame Ratignolle asks Edna to consider the effect of her adulterous actions on her children.
To this point, she had considered only her own desires. When she returns to the pigeon house, Robert is gone, having left a goodbye note.
The next morning she travels alone to Grand Isle, announces that she is going swimming, and drowns herself.Léonce is shocked by Edna's refusal to obey social conventions.
He consults Dr. Mandelet, an old family friend, who advises Léonce to leave Edna alone and allow her to get this odd behavior out of her system. Edna continues her friendships with Mademoiselle Reisz and the pregnant Madame Ratignolle. The Awakening is Kate Chopin’s novel about a married woman seeking greater personal freedom and a more fulfilling life.
Condemned as morbid, vulgar, and disagreeable when it appeared in , it is today acclaimed as an essential American book. That may be why and how Kate Chopin decided to have Edna violate the .
Kate Chopin, a regionalist writer, set her novel The Awakening in New Orleans and Grand Isle, Louisiana. In it, we follow the transformation of the protagonist, Edna Pontellier, from a pleasant. In Kate Chopin's The Awakening, the protagonist Edna Pontellier learns to think of herself as an autonomous human being and rebels against social norms by leaving her husband Leónce and having an affair.
The first half of the novel takes place in Grand Isle, an island off the coast of Louisiana. Kate Chopin’s The Awakening was a bold piece of fiction in its time, and protagonist Edna Pontellier was a controversial character. She upset many nineteenth century expectations for women and their supposed roles.
One of her most shocking actions was her denial of her role as a mother and wife. Edna’s relationship with Adèle begins Edna’s process of “awakening” and self-discovery, which constitutes the focus of the book. The process accelerates as Edna comes to know Robert Lebrun, the elder, single son of Madame Lebrun.