I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed. Chopin’s book revolves around Edna Pontellier, an American woman married to a Creole man, living in Louisiana. Originally published in 1899, The Awakening was shocking at the time for its portrayal of Mrs. Pontellier’s independence, unhappiness with her marriage, and desire for an extra-marital relationship with Robert, a man she meets while at a summer cottage with her family.
Mrs. Pontellier’s “awakening” is exemplified in a conversation she has with her friend Madame Ratignolle while at the beach that summer: “I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself. I can’t make it more clear; it’s only something which I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me.”
Although Mrs. Pontellier’s eventual level of infidelity would hardly be shocking by modern standards, the overall message that loveless relationships born of social obligation are tragic continuese to be relevant, and Mrs. Pontellier’s struggle for self-actualization through questioning societal conventions is poignant.
Chopin turned to writing after her husband died, pressured to support her family. She died five years after The Awakening was published, ostracized for writing it. It took a few decades before the book was rediscovered and recognized for its significance.
I’m having my 2nd book giveaway this month. Enter by 5 PM PST on Friday, April 1st for a chance to win a copy of The Awakening plus some cool feminist buttons, stickers, and bookmarks.
If you live in Canada or the US, you can get two chances to enter this giveaway:
To enter once, comment on this post and tell me your favourite woman character from fiction (books, TVs, movies, etc.).
To get a second entry, post the following on Twitter:
I entered to win Kate Chopin’s The Awakening & feminist swag from @jarrahpenguin and http://gender-focus.com. RT to win!
Good luck and happy reading!