The Awakening

The Awakening - Kate Chopin Huh... I'm not sure how I feel about this one right now, but I'm a bit concerned with how much I related to Edna. Minus the loveless marriage, because I do love my husband and he loves me, and I'm not really worried I'll find my own "Robert," because I don't need one. I actually didn't really know what this was about before reading it, but I thought it was going to be about a bored, married woman in high society having a fling or something. It was not (exactly) that.

I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about this book, but I'm not comfortable sharing them with the world. I'll just say that I enjoyed it more than I was expecting to while still reading, and it really packed a lot of things to mull over in such a small (my copy has 135 pages) package.

I think I've seen references to people reading this for classes that touch/focus on feminism, and I can see why. This book is from a time when women didn't really have many choices or freedoms, and I imagine it was quite scandalous and controversial at the time it was published. A woman with sexual urges?! A woman who would desire freedom?! A woman who would dare to leave her children, and not devote every bit of her being to them?! *gasps*

Even now I feel like a book with a protagonist like Edna would cause some waves. Gender roles are pretty cemented in people's minds, and Edna didn't really conform to what a mother/wife "should" be, even by today's standards. In the end, she commits suicide rather than go back to living an unfulfilling life where she has to fake happiness, lose herself, and such. So, she didn't just abandon her children by taking off with Robert or something, but let's pretend she did. In our society, if a man ran off for whatever reason and abandoned his spouse and child(ren), he wouldn't be looked upon kindly. But, if a woman were to do the exact same, the fallout would be significantly worse. I've witnessed this with people I know, and everyone is always far more critical of a mother leaving her child(ren) than of a father doing the same. In the case of suicide, it's the same,
but with a less extreme difference. I'm not saying I applaud her choices and condone them. I'm just saying that, in a way, I understand why she made her choices. But, I feel bad that things didn't work out better for her and that she finally turned to taking her own life to be free.

I said to my husband while I was reading this that I didn't think I would re-read it, but now I'm not so sure about that. I enjoyed it much more than I expected to, and now I'm curious about how I might feel about this later, when I'm older than Edna (I'll be 28 in a few weeks; Edna was, I believe, 28). I think this book is going to stick with me a very long time, and I'd love to talk more about it, but I think I'll wrap things up here.