Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Awakening (Review)

I read The Awakening in my American Lit class. Out of all the books assigned to read as an English major, this book was my favorite. Edna Pontellier, while not having the finest of names, became a revolutionary in her time. The Awakening is set in New Orleans, LA at the turn of the 19th century. What set Edna apart from most women was her desire to do more than gossip and sip tea. She wanted to be free from her societal standards as a woman and mother. All of this was revealed to her over her summer vacation at Grand Isle. She met Roberto Lebrun, and soon found there was more than friendship involved in their relationship. However, after the summer he moved to Mexico to escape the situation. Her "awakening" is encountered when she first learns to swim. Her personal brush with the dangers of the sea pushed her hopes and desires into action. Soon after her swim lesson, her husband, Leonce, took a business trip to New York and sent their two children to his mother's house, leaving Edna home alone with her thoughts. She pursued her independence by moving out of her house and beginning her career in the arts. At this point in the novel, she has become a self sustaining woman, which was her goal. Roberto declares his love to Edna after his return from Mexico. Through a series of unfortunate events, Edna is never able to give her response and Roberto left with a note expressing he wouldn't return. Edna decides to go back to the place that started it all- the ocean. Slipping into the one place that she felt she had conquered, she is overcome and drowns. This novel is a precursor to the feminist movement that would soon emerge in America and throughout the world.


  1. this was one of my favorite books as well. my lit class had lively discussions as to whether or not she actually drowns in the end and what that means - was she overcome, or was she finally free? anyway, it's a great read and highly recommend it.

  2. I loved this book, too. Unfortunately it was forever ruined by the Kelly McGillis "Grand Isle" disaster we had to watch in 12th grade...