Kate Chopin's Sensitive Novel

Jul 18, 2001 (Updated Jul 31, 2001)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:style of the novel, an emotional, moving story

Cons:Some of Edna's behavior

The Bottom Line: I enjoyed the sweet, sensitive story about Edna Pontellier. Kate Chopin's brief novel is well written.


The Awakening is a brief, classic story with feeling and emotion. It is a beautiful story about a woman who is struggling with the changes that are going on in her life. She longs to find herself. In doing so, she breaks away from convention.

The Main Characters
Edna Pontellier- a 28-year old society girl
Leonce Pontellier- her husband
Robert Lebrun- Edna's friend who Edna has fallen in love with.
Alcee Arobin- friend of Edna's, loves her.
Mademoiselle Reisz- pianist who befriends Edna and gives her comfort.
Madame Ratignolle- friend of Edna's who is expecting a baby.

The Novel
The novel is short and the language and style of the author, Kate Chopin, is flowing. It is a quick read with a lot of emotion.
Sometimes it is easy to feel sorry for high-society girl Edna Pontellier and other times it is difficult. Edna is lost in her feelings toward Robert Lebrun, a man she met while staying in the Grand Isle in the summer. She is lost when it comes to doing as her husband says. She wants complete independence from him and is finding it more and more difficult to have any real love toward him.

While Edna is trying to find herself in society, she has seemingly abandoned her own children, Raoul and Etienne. This is the part that bothers me. Although it is mentioned that she sends her children candy and gifts and sees them once in a while, the children are growing up with a nanny. Edna's only real concern is herself.

When the summer is near over, Robert goes to Mexico. Edna is disappointed. She distants herself further with her husband. At one point, she stomps on her wedding ring. She refuses callers on a Tuesday.
Edna is alone when her husband leaves on work duty. She visits Mademoiselle Reisz who has been receiving letters from Robert. Edna confesses to her that she loves Robert.
Edna meets Alcee Arobin, a man who takes a liking to her. He is more bold than Robert; at one point he kisses her. Edna realizes later that all she wants is Robert.
Edna moves out of her house and goes to live in a smaller place. She does this without consulting her husband.

Eventually Robert comes back. He does not go to see Edna for a couple days. Edna is annoyed when she finds this out. They are awkward together for a bit. Then they warm up and confess their true feelings. Robert has a hard time with this. He is troubled with the fact (as he well should be) that Edna is married.

Edna goes to watch the birth of Madame Ratignolle's child. She is horrified at the suffering the woman goes through. She walks off in a daze. The doctor advises Edna to come see her.
Edna feels even worse when she finds a note from Robert that says "I love you. Goodby- because I love you."
She walks to the Gulf and shreds off her clothes. She walks into the water. Her only regret is leaving her children and what it will do to them. She cares nothing for her husband. She drowns there.

My Thoughts
I liked the story overall. I thought it was well written with a beautiful style. It is a fine piece of work and I recommend it. Edna's story is sad. I wished afterward that she had gone to see the doctor. I wish she hadn't thought suicide was her only option. Read it for enjoyment. This is one classic story sure to delight.


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