Pontellier has reached a crisis point in her life. Wife of a
successful businessman and mother of two young children, she feels as
though she is losing sight of herself and is suddenly possessed with a
desperate desire to become her own woman.
Because of this, the annual summer family jaunt from New Orleans to Grande
Isle takes a different turn from past years as Edna, yearning for
something new and different, becomes attached to the resort owner's
handsome young son.
Lost and bewildered Edna
cannot decide what to do; stay with the man she married, go with the man
she loves, or make a new life for herself on her own.
worked for me:
can see why this story is used in women's studies classes to get a better
understanding of life in the middle and upper classes of Victorian
society, as well as cultural differences as far as racial and religious
background. "The Awakening" vividly paints the Deep South's social structure
during that era.
Size-wise Edna sounded to be slim
to average. Her very good friend Adele was quite plump though, and the
author frequently lauded her soft beauty. (However then as now
there was still a sense that "big is beautiful" only extends so far, as
was underscored by a particular passage with a very abundant woman being
physically described in less-than-glowing terms.)
What didn't work for me:
the only character who seemed real to me; the rest were cardboard
cut-outs. However this may not be a lack of writing proficiency on
Ms. Chopin's part, but rather a way to illustrate how cut off Edna was from
others. People who seemed unreal to the reader may have also seemed that
way to Edna.
Personally, I feel ambivalent
about the ending. From an artistic point of view it was quite
valid, and perhaps it was socially valid in that day and age as well.
But I couldn't help but be frustrated with Edna for not finding another
way to resolve her situation.
interesting book for anyone who wants to better understand a well-heeled
woman's place in Victorian society, but as a pleasure read this novella
might be a bit dry and the ending somewhat unsatisfying.
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