At less than 200 pages, The Awakening is a short novel. Centered around the experiences of a woman who abandons the restrictive norms Victorian society places on her, it is a notable and early example of feminist literature (though the term "feminism" wasn't coined until later). Chopin was raised entirely by a community of older women after her father died when she was five, and she birthed six children by the age of twenty-eight. Her life circumstances may have influenced her to write stories and books that are told from female characters' perspectives and that center women's inner thoughts, emotions, and desires.
Although The Awakening falls into the period of Victorian literature, it has a Modernist bent in that it focuses on dissatisfactions of upper-class life, with attention to social rules and conventions. And, finally, the alienation that the protagonist, Edna, feels at the novel’s end reflects common themes in Existential literature.