01 Feb Kate Chopin In a sense The Awakening is a story about rebellion of a quiet sort, a coming of awareness that compels a young person to seek escape from a social world that can
In a sense The Awakening is a story about rebellion of a quiet sort, a coming of awareness that compels a young person to seek escape from a social world that can never seem other than a deathtrap. Margaret Fuller heads for Italy and revolution; Huck lights out for the territory; Ishmael “quietly take[s] to the ship”; and Thoreau moves a mile out of Concord for a couple of years, to try a life of partial solitude. Edna’s rebellion, however, leads to self-destruction, to drowning ambiguously in the Gulf—rather than a longer, slower drowning on shore.
In Chopin’s quest to present Edna’s entrapment, despair, and (possible) suicide from her own point of view—a journey that leads through illicit sex and eventually into a deeper sort of solitude in which sexuality seems to be transcended or left behind—she uses the technique of shifting the narrative center.
Why do you think Chopin does not allow Edna to rise up at any point and speak her own mind completely and clearly, to anyone else, or even to herself? Could this be the very heart of the oppression that she experiences, an oppression so complete as to deny the victim a full sense of her own predicament? Choose two or three moments where Edna seems on the verge of that kind of recognition or utterance and discuss how these moments work in the novel. (6 pts)