The Awakening

by

Kate Chopin

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The Awakening: Setting 1 key example

Definition of Setting
Setting is where and when a story or scene takes place. The where can be a real place like the city of New York, or it can be an imagined... read full definition
Setting is where and when a story or scene takes place. The where can be a real place like the city of New York, or... read full definition
Setting is where and when a story or scene takes place. The where can be a real place like the... read full definition
Chapter 1
Explanation and Analysis:

Chopin lived and wrote in late 19th-century New Orleans, where The Awakening is set. Catholic and conservative, it was a time and place characterized by a strict social order. Women were considered their husbands' legal property and expected to be delicate, passive, and virtuous. The Awakening questions the foundation of this fading social order. By the end of the novel, Edna abandons social conventions and chooses to live based on her inner desires instead.

On a more specific level, the vivid and evocative scenery in the novel underscores the characters' experiences. In Chapter 1, Léonce Pontellier observes The Gulf:

The gulf looked far away, melting hazily into the blue of the horizon. The sunshade continued to approach slowly. Beneath its pink-lined shelter were his wife, Mrs Pontellier, and young Robert Lebrun.

The description of the sky as pink and the moving water of the Gulf as hazy gives it a romantic, dream-like quality, which mirrors Edna's increasingly romantic mindset as she awakens to her own desires. The image of Edna and Robert together also foreshadows their tragic romance. The Gulf thus takes on a romantic but foreboding meaning. At the very end of the novel, Edna returns the same Gulf in Chapter 39: 

The water of the Gulf stretched out before [Edna] gleaming with the million lights of the sun. The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude.

Here, the Gulf and sea are personified as a beautiful, yet dangerous element. In the phrase “abysses of solitude,” the novel suggests that inward reflection has an aimless, dangerous side—a force one could potentially be forever lost in. Edna eventually succumbs to this aimlessness and drowns at the end of the novel. 

In addition, the Pontellier home is an important location in The Awakening. The narrator describes it in Chapter 17 as: 

[...] A large, double cottage, with a broad front veranda, whose round, fluted columns supported the sloping roof. The house was painted a dazzling white; the outside shutters, or jalousies, were green [...] the softest carpets and rugs covered the floors; rich and tasteful draperies hung at doors and windows [...] the cut glass, the silver, the heavy damask which daily appeared upon the table were the envy of many women whose husbands were less generous than Mr Pontellier.” 

The presence of certain luxuries—the “cut glass, silver, heavy damask”—reflects the Pontelliers’ social milieu and the particular ideals and social norms they live by. The house takes on new meaning when Edna returns from Grand Isle in Chapter 24:

A feeling that was unfamiliar but very delicious came over her. She walked all through the house, from one room to another, as if inspecting it for the first time

The change in how Edna experiences the setting of her home reflects her inner awakening. Edna senses that she has changed and therefore begins to see the world and herself differently. Soon after, Edna decides to move to the pigeon-house alone, without her husband and children. The narrator describes Edna’s sense of satisfaction in finding a space of her own in Chapter 32: 

It at once assumed the intimate character of a home, while she herself invested it with a charm which it reflected like a warm glow. There was with her a feeling of having descended in the social scale, with a corresponding sense of having risen in the spiritual.

The pigeon-house is where Edna is able to assert her newfound independence, where she has privacy and is able to reexamine or let go of the roles expected of her as woman, daughter, and wife. The pigeon-house is also where Edna has an intimate reunion with Robert after his unexpected return from Mexico, and where her eventual lover, Alcée Arobin, pays her frequent visits.

Chapter 17
Explanation and Analysis:

Chopin lived and wrote in late 19th-century New Orleans, where The Awakening is set. Catholic and conservative, it was a time and place characterized by a strict social order. Women were considered their husbands' legal property and expected to be delicate, passive, and virtuous. The Awakening questions the foundation of this fading social order. By the end of the novel, Edna abandons social conventions and chooses to live based on her inner desires instead.

On a more specific level, the vivid and evocative scenery in the novel underscores the characters' experiences. In Chapter 1, Léonce Pontellier observes The Gulf:

The gulf looked far away, melting hazily into the blue of the horizon. The sunshade continued to approach slowly. Beneath its pink-lined shelter were his wife, Mrs Pontellier, and young Robert Lebrun.

The description of the sky as pink and the moving water of the Gulf as hazy gives it a romantic, dream-like quality, which mirrors Edna's increasingly romantic mindset as she awakens to her own desires. The image of Edna and Robert together also foreshadows their tragic romance. The Gulf thus takes on a romantic but foreboding meaning. At the very end of the novel, Edna returns the same Gulf in Chapter 39: 

The water of the Gulf stretched out before [Edna] gleaming with the million lights of the sun. The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude.

Here, the Gulf and sea are personified as a beautiful, yet dangerous element. In the phrase “abysses of solitude,” the novel suggests that inward reflection has an aimless, dangerous side—a force one could potentially be forever lost in. Edna eventually succumbs to this aimlessness and drowns at the end of the novel. 

In addition, the Pontellier home is an important location in The Awakening. The narrator describes it in Chapter 17 as: 

[...] A large, double cottage, with a broad front veranda, whose round, fluted columns supported the sloping roof. The house was painted a dazzling white; the outside shutters, or jalousies, were green [...] the softest carpets and rugs covered the floors; rich and tasteful draperies hung at doors and windows [...] the cut glass, the silver, the heavy damask which daily appeared upon the table were the envy of many women whose husbands were less generous than Mr Pontellier.” 

The presence of certain luxuries—the “cut glass, silver, heavy damask”—reflects the Pontelliers’ social milieu and the particular ideals and social norms they live by. The house takes on new meaning when Edna returns from Grand Isle in Chapter 24:

A feeling that was unfamiliar but very delicious came over her. She walked all through the house, from one room to another, as if inspecting it for the first time

The change in how Edna experiences the setting of her home reflects her inner awakening. Edna senses that she has changed and therefore begins to see the world and herself differently. Soon after, Edna decides to move to the pigeon-house alone, without her husband and children. The narrator describes Edna’s sense of satisfaction in finding a space of her own in Chapter 32: 

It at once assumed the intimate character of a home, while she herself invested it with a charm which it reflected like a warm glow. There was with her a feeling of having descended in the social scale, with a corresponding sense of having risen in the spiritual.

The pigeon-house is where Edna is able to assert her newfound independence, where she has privacy and is able to reexamine or let go of the roles expected of her as woman, daughter, and wife. The pigeon-house is also where Edna has an intimate reunion with Robert after his unexpected return from Mexico, and where her eventual lover, Alcée Arobin, pays her frequent visits.

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Chapter 24
Explanation and Analysis:

Chopin lived and wrote in late 19th-century New Orleans, where The Awakening is set. Catholic and conservative, it was a time and place characterized by a strict social order. Women were considered their husbands' legal property and expected to be delicate, passive, and virtuous. The Awakening questions the foundation of this fading social order. By the end of the novel, Edna abandons social conventions and chooses to live based on her inner desires instead.

On a more specific level, the vivid and evocative scenery in the novel underscores the characters' experiences. In Chapter 1, Léonce Pontellier observes The Gulf:

The gulf looked far away, melting hazily into the blue of the horizon. The sunshade continued to approach slowly. Beneath its pink-lined shelter were his wife, Mrs Pontellier, and young Robert Lebrun.

The description of the sky as pink and the moving water of the Gulf as hazy gives it a romantic, dream-like quality, which mirrors Edna's increasingly romantic mindset as she awakens to her own desires. The image of Edna and Robert together also foreshadows their tragic romance. The Gulf thus takes on a romantic but foreboding meaning. At the very end of the novel, Edna returns the same Gulf in Chapter 39: 

The water of the Gulf stretched out before [Edna] gleaming with the million lights of the sun. The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude.

Here, the Gulf and sea are personified as a beautiful, yet dangerous element. In the phrase “abysses of solitude,” the novel suggests that inward reflection has an aimless, dangerous side—a force one could potentially be forever lost in. Edna eventually succumbs to this aimlessness and drowns at the end of the novel. 

In addition, the Pontellier home is an important location in The Awakening. The narrator describes it in Chapter 17 as: 

[...] A large, double cottage, with a broad front veranda, whose round, fluted columns supported the sloping roof. The house was painted a dazzling white; the outside shutters, or jalousies, were green [...] the softest carpets and rugs covered the floors; rich and tasteful draperies hung at doors and windows [...] the cut glass, the silver, the heavy damask which daily appeared upon the table were the envy of many women whose husbands were less generous than Mr Pontellier.” 

The presence of certain luxuries—the “cut glass, silver, heavy damask”—reflects the Pontelliers’ social milieu and the particular ideals and social norms they live by. The house takes on new meaning when Edna returns from Grand Isle in Chapter 24:

A feeling that was unfamiliar but very delicious came over her. She walked all through the house, from one room to another, as if inspecting it for the first time

The change in how Edna experiences the setting of her home reflects her inner awakening. Edna senses that she has changed and therefore begins to see the world and herself differently. Soon after, Edna decides to move to the pigeon-house alone, without her husband and children. The narrator describes Edna’s sense of satisfaction in finding a space of her own in Chapter 32: 

It at once assumed the intimate character of a home, while she herself invested it with a charm which it reflected like a warm glow. There was with her a feeling of having descended in the social scale, with a corresponding sense of having risen in the spiritual.

The pigeon-house is where Edna is able to assert her newfound independence, where she has privacy and is able to reexamine or let go of the roles expected of her as woman, daughter, and wife. The pigeon-house is also where Edna has an intimate reunion with Robert after his unexpected return from Mexico, and where her eventual lover, Alcée Arobin, pays her frequent visits.

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Chapter 32
Explanation and Analysis:

Chopin lived and wrote in late 19th-century New Orleans, where The Awakening is set. Catholic and conservative, it was a time and place characterized by a strict social order. Women were considered their husbands' legal property and expected to be delicate, passive, and virtuous. The Awakening questions the foundation of this fading social order. By the end of the novel, Edna abandons social conventions and chooses to live based on her inner desires instead.

On a more specific level, the vivid and evocative scenery in the novel underscores the characters' experiences. In Chapter 1, Léonce Pontellier observes The Gulf:

The gulf looked far away, melting hazily into the blue of the horizon. The sunshade continued to approach slowly. Beneath its pink-lined shelter were his wife, Mrs Pontellier, and young Robert Lebrun.

The description of the sky as pink and the moving water of the Gulf as hazy gives it a romantic, dream-like quality, which mirrors Edna's increasingly romantic mindset as she awakens to her own desires. The image of Edna and Robert together also foreshadows their tragic romance. The Gulf thus takes on a romantic but foreboding meaning. At the very end of the novel, Edna returns the same Gulf in Chapter 39: 

The water of the Gulf stretched out before [Edna] gleaming with the million lights of the sun. The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude.

Here, the Gulf and sea are personified as a beautiful, yet dangerous element. In the phrase “abysses of solitude,” the novel suggests that inward reflection has an aimless, dangerous side—a force one could potentially be forever lost in. Edna eventually succumbs to this aimlessness and drowns at the end of the novel. 

In addition, the Pontellier home is an important location in The Awakening. The narrator describes it in Chapter 17 as: 

[...] A large, double cottage, with a broad front veranda, whose round, fluted columns supported the sloping roof. The house was painted a dazzling white; the outside shutters, or jalousies, were green [...] the softest carpets and rugs covered the floors; rich and tasteful draperies hung at doors and windows [...] the cut glass, the silver, the heavy damask which daily appeared upon the table were the envy of many women whose husbands were less generous than Mr Pontellier.” 

The presence of certain luxuries—the “cut glass, silver, heavy damask”—reflects the Pontelliers’ social milieu and the particular ideals and social norms they live by. The house takes on new meaning when Edna returns from Grand Isle in Chapter 24:

A feeling that was unfamiliar but very delicious came over her. She walked all through the house, from one room to another, as if inspecting it for the first time

The change in how Edna experiences the setting of her home reflects her inner awakening. Edna senses that she has changed and therefore begins to see the world and herself differently. Soon after, Edna decides to move to the pigeon-house alone, without her husband and children. The narrator describes Edna’s sense of satisfaction in finding a space of her own in Chapter 32: 

It at once assumed the intimate character of a home, while she herself invested it with a charm which it reflected like a warm glow. There was with her a feeling of having descended in the social scale, with a corresponding sense of having risen in the spiritual.

The pigeon-house is where Edna is able to assert her newfound independence, where she has privacy and is able to reexamine or let go of the roles expected of her as woman, daughter, and wife. The pigeon-house is also where Edna has an intimate reunion with Robert after his unexpected return from Mexico, and where her eventual lover, Alcée Arobin, pays her frequent visits.

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Chapter 39
Explanation and Analysis:

Chopin lived and wrote in late 19th-century New Orleans, where The Awakening is set. Catholic and conservative, it was a time and place characterized by a strict social order. Women were considered their husbands' legal property and expected to be delicate, passive, and virtuous. The Awakening questions the foundation of this fading social order. By the end of the novel, Edna abandons social conventions and chooses to live based on her inner desires instead.

On a more specific level, the vivid and evocative scenery in the novel underscores the characters' experiences. In Chapter 1, Léonce Pontellier observes The Gulf:

The gulf looked far away, melting hazily into the blue of the horizon. The sunshade continued to approach slowly. Beneath its pink-lined shelter were his wife, Mrs Pontellier, and young Robert Lebrun.

The description of the sky as pink and the moving water of the Gulf as hazy gives it a romantic, dream-like quality, which mirrors Edna's increasingly romantic mindset as she awakens to her own desires. The image of Edna and Robert together also foreshadows their tragic romance. The Gulf thus takes on a romantic but foreboding meaning. At the very end of the novel, Edna returns the same Gulf in Chapter 39: 

The water of the Gulf stretched out before [Edna] gleaming with the million lights of the sun. The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude.

Here, the Gulf and sea are personified as a beautiful, yet dangerous element. In the phrase “abysses of solitude,” the novel suggests that inward reflection has an aimless, dangerous side—a force one could potentially be forever lost in. Edna eventually succumbs to this aimlessness and drowns at the end of the novel. 

In addition, the Pontellier home is an important location in The Awakening. The narrator describes it in Chapter 17 as: 

[...] A large, double cottage, with a broad front veranda, whose round, fluted columns supported the sloping roof. The house was painted a dazzling white; the outside shutters, or jalousies, were green [...] the softest carpets and rugs covered the floors; rich and tasteful draperies hung at doors and windows [...] the cut glass, the silver, the heavy damask which daily appeared upon the table were the envy of many women whose husbands were less generous than Mr Pontellier.” 

The presence of certain luxuries—the “cut glass, silver, heavy damask”—reflects the Pontelliers’ social milieu and the particular ideals and social norms they live by. The house takes on new meaning when Edna returns from Grand Isle in Chapter 24:

A feeling that was unfamiliar but very delicious came over her. She walked all through the house, from one room to another, as if inspecting it for the first time

The change in how Edna experiences the setting of her home reflects her inner awakening. Edna senses that she has changed and therefore begins to see the world and herself differently. Soon after, Edna decides to move to the pigeon-house alone, without her husband and children. The narrator describes Edna’s sense of satisfaction in finding a space of her own in Chapter 32: 

It at once assumed the intimate character of a home, while she herself invested it with a charm which it reflected like a warm glow. There was with her a feeling of having descended in the social scale, with a corresponding sense of having risen in the spiritual.

The pigeon-house is where Edna is able to assert her newfound independence, where she has privacy and is able to reexamine or let go of the roles expected of her as woman, daughter, and wife. The pigeon-house is also where Edna has an intimate reunion with Robert after his unexpected return from Mexico, and where her eventual lover, Alcée Arobin, pays her frequent visits.

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