Personal Response to The Awakening

The Awakening, a novel written by Kate Chopin takes place in the very early 1900s New Orleans. The main character being Edna Pontellier, throughout the story we can see her struggles and death at the end of the novel. I was left with many questions at the end of the book like “Is Edna a bad person? A bad wife? A bad mother?”, “Is Edna selfish?”, “What is a good marriage?”, and “What obligations do parents have to their parents?”.

For the first question I have which is “Is Edna a bad person? A bad wife? A bad mother?”. I don’t think Edna is a bad person because it seems as though throughout a lot of the story she is mentally unstable, her life is almost at a constant flux of emotions and therefore she is not in the right headspace and if she was I feel as though she would be a better person, and when Mme. Ratingolle was sick she took care of her, despite her and Robert having a very lovey dovey conversation. She is in some form a “bad wife”, due to the fact that she is literally cheating on him with another man, and is very much so in love with another man other than Leonce. She isn’t a bad mother though, she still throughout the story seems to be very loving towards her kids and takes care of them and thinks of them.

For the second question I have which is “Is Edna selfish?”, I do think she is selfish, this is mostly due to the fact she is taking away her pain just to feel good, even though she is scarring plenty of her friends and close family members.

For the third question I have is “What is a good marriage?”, I feel as though that a good marriage is one where both people in the marriage love each other, they keep their distance from each other (so they don’t burn each other out), and neither are financially dependent on the other. For example if the father wasn’t working while the mother has a job, I feel as though it creates a power dynamic in the way that like one feels as though they are doing more and could cause tension between them that would get in the way of other things. That’s why I feel as though it’s good if both parents work and it also helps stop parents being burned out by each other.

For the final question I have is “What obligations do parents have to their parents?”, Some of the main obligations that parents have to their kids are like loving them, supporting them, and the obvious stuff. With the supporting them part I’m mostly talking about like whatever job they choose, whatever stuff they like to do, and stuff like that. The obvious stuff mostly includes like food, shelter, water, and clothes.

2 thoughts on “Personal Response to The Awakening”

  1. Hey Jack! I did not really find Edna to be selfish, but rather realizing appreciation for oneself. Do we not have to love ourselves before we can love others? I am also curoius about how you feel about societies conventions. Maybe to help improve your future personal response you can use some evidence from the text to support that.

  2. Hi Jack! I liked how you reflected on these important questions. But I would like to argue that Edna isn’t “mentally unstable.” Instead, I view her “flux of emotions” as finally beginning to realize who she is and beginning to be aware of her environment. However, I do agree with you that there should be a power dynamic, not just in marriage, but in every other relationship. The Pontellier’s marriage was a failure because neither side willingly compensated for this lack of balance. Nevertheless, good job!

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