Book Review: The Awakening

28 Oct

As part of the 1% Well Read Challenge, I decided to read a few books that I’ve never read before. I originally set out to read ten books I’d never read, but since I entered the challenge rather late in the game, I decided that I will read five titles I’ve never read before. Since I did read quite a number of titles that are on the list in my last semester of school, I figure this is only fair, since technically this means that I’ve read all ten this year.


I just finished reading Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. I know, I know, all of the feminists out there are wondering why it’s taken so long for me to read it. Someone spoiled the ending for me long ago, and I couldn’t bring myself to read it until now.

Though I don’t really agree with some of the dominant themes within this novel, (adultery, neglect of one’s children, suicide, etc.) when one considers the context of the time period, it is easy to sympathize (somewhat) with protagonist Edna Pontellier’s woes. Trapped in a time period where women were “made” only to be wives and mothers, it is understandable why a woman of that time may start to feel suffocated in a loveless marriage, surrounded by children to whom she does not relate.

When speaking about any time before the feminist movement, I’ve heard a lot of people say, “Oh, well these women could have chosen not to marry.” Or “If these women did not want children, they shouldn’t have had them.” It’s very easy for us to look at these women and criticize them for their “choices.” But did they have a choice? In many earlier works, we see that women who chose not to marry or to have children were often left destitute, often dying with nothing and no one. The fear of losing everything, as we know, often led women to marry out of survival rather than love.

Case in point, so many speak of the end of Pride and Prejudice, where Jane and Elizabeth are married off to two of the richest, most admirable men in England. What we don’t hear about enough is poor Charlotte Lucas, who married the barely tolerable Mr. Collins in an effort to save herself from becoming a financial burden to her parents. We don’t speculate enough about what her life after the novel would have been like.

The Awakening is hailed today as one of most influential novels ever written. As stated, though I certainly don’t agree with many of its themes, I can certainly understand why it is given such weight. It is novels like this, and writers like Kate Chopin, who aided ultimately in securing freedoms for women in a later time, allowing us the opportunity to make real choices in the present. Though many of these women made strange and perplexing decisions, (choosing to end their own lives, engaging in extramarrital affairs and the like) they helped to shed light on many of the injustices committed against women of their time and beyond.

Today, a woman can choose whether or not she wants to be married or have children. If she chooses not to, she can work to provide for herself. The choices we have today help us, perhaps, to understand the plight of women in the past. Maybe we don’t agree with their decisions, but we can start to understand what motivated them.


2 Responses to “Book Review: The Awakening”

  1. **Nicole** October 29, 2009 at 3:47 pm #

    Where did you see in her TOU that she doesn't allow commercial use? I have one set of hers that says she does…..hoping she does since I've used a bunch of her stuff, lol!!! I tried to contact her when I started my business to get permission but she never got back to me either, I think she's been MIA for about a year now. I can give you some other good (ssshhh free) Commercial Use ppl if you need me to! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ˜‰ Just because I like you! Haha! Email me if you want me to dig through my stuff. da_angel_321 at I do think you'd be safe using the Digi Free Stuff though…

  2. **Nicole** October 29, 2009 at 3:50 pm #

    Alrighty, I just found my TOU where she gives the Ok to use her stuff on commercial blogs. If you want I can email it to ya ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ˜€ just shoot me and email!

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