In “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin I found the main characters very interesting. They have very unique personalities and motivations that make them to make different decisions and have different feelings. I did not like the character Edna because I think she acted selfish by having affairs with other men and not looking after her children good enough. But I also felt pity for Edna because she wanted freedom from being trapped in unhappy marriage to an older man who did not love her and who she did not love either. Her husband just wants to her earn money and have a good reputation, that’s why he tries to stop her moving out of the house. He is too dominant in their marriage and she feels trapped so I felt sorry for her. Edna is a sympathetic character to me, because life was very unfair to her. I also think that Edna still showed she cares about her husband’s reputation because she drowned in the sea but she did it in a way that people won’t know that she killed herself on purpose.
Mr. Pontellier is a professional and he earns money to feed his family, so he looks good from the outside to society, but to me he actually is a chauvinist who does not treat his wife with love. This made me dislike the character of Mr. Pontellier. He looks like a perfect husband but he does not care enough about his wife and kids and so it increases her unhappiness so that she wants to be free. Edna puts all of her hope in Robert, but in the end even he decides not to marry her because of the social pressure and the bad judgment they would get in society. This was sad and it shows how women in that time period had their future depending on a man instead of independence.
I also found the character Mrs. Ratignolle interesting also. She is a very nice awesome woman, but she is limited by that period of time and her husband’s dominance. She is a typical woman of that time period that means her main job is to have children and look after her husband. I think that makes me feel some pity, because she loses her own distinct personality by only having a job serving others. She is pregnant with her fourth child in the story and that seems like a lot of children to me for one woman because in China women usually only have one or maybe two children. I think Mrs. Ratignolle is a same type of character similar to Edna but Edna gets more depressed than Mrs. Ratignolle.
Taking all of the above elements into consideration, I found the characters in “The Awakening” interesting and sometimes confusing with their motivations, but the story gave me a sad feeling in the end. I feel like this story is fighting for women’s rights to show the voice and feelings about women that were ignored in history. The author is trying to show Edna as an inspiration to fight for their own rights and even though the ending is sad, Edna is supposed to be an example of how unhappy things can be if women are treated bad. My personal response to this story was that I wished the characters could have been happier and not so much trapped by society and expectation, but I was also a bit upset about how the character Edna was so much thinking of herself even though I understand why the author Kate Chopin was making the example out of her about women having rights.
In “the Negro Mother” by Langston Hughes, the poem implies that black people reading it in the current day are not as strong as their ancestors and need to make sure to live up to the bravery of those who came before them. Not everyone would agree with this analysis but there is evidence in the poem that she wants to make sure that the African Americans today can be as strong as she was before. We know that the narrator of the poem in “Negro Mother” is talking to black people of today because she says “Children, I come back today / To tell you a story of the long dark way.” We can also see that she implies they need to not be lazy at all when she says “Sometimes, the road was hot with the sun, / But I had to keep on till my work was done: /I had to keep on! No stopping for me – /I was the seed of the coming Free.” These lines shows that the Negro mother is proud that the current generations is free but when she writes “no stopping for me!” it implies that she worked harder than today’s African Americans to win their freedom. The narrator is inspiring future generations by telling them “Remember how the strong in struggle and strife / Still bar you the way, and deny you life – / But march ever forward, breaking down bars. / Look ever upward at the sun and the stars.” She is reassured them that if she got through even worse times they can get through bad racism and times today in America. In the time of the narrator, who is a symbol for the strong black woman who kept African Americans strong through oppression and never surrendered to the racism of the white people, she is remembering a time when black families were whipped and black children were intentionally sold to far away to split up black families. It was much worse even than the racism that existed in the time of Langston Hughes, so she is telling the black people reading the poem to be brave and strong and never give up. This woman is trying to convey a positive experience to us that can come from the hard history of African Americans in slavery and oppression and make sure people know the struggle she went through means they can get through anything.
Harlem Sweeties by Langston Hughes is an interesting that uses a special and imaginative technique of the language of jazz. Jazz music started with African-Americans and now it is popular with people all in the world. Jazz is not formal it is very creative mixing traditional European music with new improvisation, African percussion styles and other styles. This poem has a similar style as jazz because it is fun and creative improvisation with language and rhythm. It does not have a definite rhyme scheme or meter. Most of the lines are short but then some are longer and have unusual rhythm and rhymes. It uses approximate rhyme sometimes and changes the rhymes in a fun way to show Hughe’s love for the Sugar Hill area in Harlem and the women that are there who are beautiful. By making the technique unique he also shows how the skin tones and women are all unique. To celebrate the beauty of the women of colour in the poem, Hughes uses playful language that has short lines and makes charming images. For example: “Brown sugar lassie, / Caramel treat, / Honey-gold baby / Sweet enough to eat.” As you can see this is lines with only two or three words but it makes strong images of colour, food and enjoyment about the beauty of women.
Hughes uses similes to depict the beauty of the women. His similes are food, drinks and delicious treats such as “coffee and cream / chocolate darling / Out of a dream. / Walnut tinted / Or cocoa brown, / Pomegrantae-lipped / Pride of the town.” This way he uses the imagery of delicious treats to show the attractiveness of the women he sees in Sugar Hill. “All these sweet colors / Flavor Harlem of mine!”
Hughes is trying to give people feelings in many different ways of their five senses such as seeing, hearing, tasting, seeing and even smell (“licorice, clove, cinnamon.”) Hughes is talking about things that many people love like coconuts and chocolate that taste so delicious. He is using imagery and senses to contrast with the negative racism against African-Americans at that time in the United States. Hughes technique is fun and wants people to appreciate all the different skin colours and beauty of African-American women and the black community. It is like Martin Luther King Jr’s famous speech where he said that “black is beautiful.”
Hughes also uses slang that was popular in the African-American community in that time like “have you dug the spill?” “peach-skinned girlie” and “cast your gims.” He uses some very unique words like “persimmon” and “sepia” to describe tastes and colours, but most of the words in the poem are short and easy to say. This makes it even more like a song and fun to read. I like this poem a lot because the technique is very interesting and it is enjoyable to read.