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Essay on Importance of Water in The Awakening

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Importance of Water in The Awakening

 
    Kate Chopin's The Awakening begins set in Grande Isle which is the summer get-away for a few families of New Orleans "upper-class". It is a community of cottages owned by the Lebrun family. Edna Pontellier and her husband Leonce summer there with there two children. This is the setting where Edna also develops a close relationship with Robert Lebrun. He is one of Madame Lebrun's sons who helps her run the cottages for the Pontellier's and the Ratingnolle's. The book begins and ends with Edna and her attraction to the water. Throughout the story water plays a symbolic part in the unfolding of Edna and her relationship to Robert and also her awakening to a new outlook on life along with an independence that takes her away from her family and the socially constraining life in which she no longer can see herself a part of.

Edna and Robert are at the beach enjoying each others company at first. They quickly return to the cottage where Leonce is and he talks to them. They have had a good time down by the water and Leonce, being the proper business like man that he is does not understand why Robert would rather spend his time chatting with his wife than attending to other things. It is obvious to the reader that Edna and Robert have a connection and are amused with what the other has to say. Leonce shrugs this off as nothing and leaves for the hotel where many of the men chat and drink in the evenings. Edna and Robert talk some more and eventually part. These are the first signs of something special between them.

Robert often spends his time chatting with Edna and Madame Ratingnolle. Adele Ratingnolle is a lovely woman who Edna and Robert both adore for her be...


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...eisz. She can hear her playing the piano and thinks of her talking about art. She wonders if she is a real artist. She becomes exhausted and knows that she is too far out to return. The water that she was so mesmerized with throughout the novel and that was the beginning of her new life, was also the end.

Works Consulted

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. Anthology of American Literature. Volume II: Realism to the Present. Ed. George McMichael. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2000. 697-771.

Davis, Sara de Saussure. "Kate Chopin." Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 12 pp. 59-71. Literature Resource Center. Gale Group Databases. Central Lib. Fort Worth, TX. 11 Feb. 2003

Dawson, Hugh J. "Kate Chopin's The Awakening: A Dissenting Opinion." American Literary Realism 26.2 (1994):1 18.

Ward, Selena. "Spark Notes on The Awakening." 11 Feb 2003.

 


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