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Childhood Experiences In The Awakening By Kate Chopin

2300 words - 10 pages

In Kate Chopin’s novel, The Awakening, her protagonist, Edna Pontellier, a displaced woman of the 19th century lives a life influenced by the men in her society. Edna, a stranger in her own home, has a difficult time accepting traditional roles in society and her role as a mother. People of society in 19th century America, especially in the New Orleans, stigmatized women who felt the need to leave the home and disregard their duties as unacceptable ladies. Evidently Edna is looked down upon for her erratic behavior. In order to be accepted in her community Edna feels the need to live a life she is not content with. However, she soon realizes that she will not allow herself to deviate from ...view middle of the document...

In order to escape this life that her father has already established for her she feels a need to run away. The author states, “Add to this the violent opposition of her father and her sister Margaret to her marriage with a Catholic, and we need seek no further for the motives which led her to accept Monsieur Pontellier for her husband.”(Chopin, 39) Edna figures that in order to escape the authority of her father, marrying a Catholic man would be the ideal thing to do, she would anger her father and she would be leaving his home as well. However, even after marrying Leonce her father still finds a way to meddle in her life. During one of his visits he shares a few words of wisdom with her husband, he tells him, “You are too lenient, too lenient by far, Leonce. Authority, coercion are what is needed. Put your foot down good and hard; the only way to manage a wife. Take my word for it.”(Chopin, 94) The Colonel disregards the fact that her husband is Catholic and instead acknowledges the fact that men need to look out for each other, especially when their woman is being disobedient. Edna’s father ignores the fact that she is not pleased with the life she is living and instead looks for ways to limit her even more. The Colonel awakens Edna to the reality that men and authority will constantly exceed women and their happiness.
Marriage is the union between two people who have established the decision to live as husband and wife and have pledged themselves to each other. Leonce and Edna Pontellier represent a married couple who are together for all of the wrong reasons, Leonce is in it for control and Edna; well she is clueless as to why she is married. Throughout the novel Leonce is absent for the majority however his absence is what awakens Edna to the reality that she doesn’t want to play the role of a wife and mother. “Their absence was sort of a relief, though she did not admit this, even to herself. It seemed to free her of a responsibility which she had blindly assumed and for which Fate had not fitted her.” (Chopin, 40) Edna marries Leonce not realizing what that entails, which in her situation means raising kids. While her husband and kids are away Edna is left with time to think about life and how Fate presented her with an opportunity that isn’t fit for her. During her alone time she discovers that she has an artistic eye and instead of entertaining the neighbors she spends her time painting. Her husband, rather than being supportive, he is selfish, careless and unresponsive. Their relationship consists of him treating Edna as property instead of a significant other, making her question what a relationship is supposed to be based on. Leonce is a man who concerns himself only with his social appearance, constantly hoping that Edna performs the practices expected of New Orleans women despite knowing her disgust for them. In his opinion women like Adele were respectable women because they obeyed their husbands and took care of their kids. He...

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