The Awakening by Kate Chopin

The Awakening

When it was first published in 1899, The Awakening was a shocking look at how society treats female infidelity.  The novel was a door-opener, and as is oftentimes the case, it is difficult to read such novels and understand, in today’s context, exactly what the big deal was.  The main character, Edna Pontellier is a 28 year old housewife, well-off and living in Louisiana.  Her husband has no time for her, and her children are cared for by a nanny.  She is bored and wants more out of life.  When she meets and falls in love with a man who is not her husband, Edna’s life is forever changed.

The author does not render judgement, nor does she try to create a morality story.  Kate Chopin also goes to great lengths to keep her characters at a distance.  As a reader, I didn’t have any feelings for them one way or another.  It appears that this was purposeful – Chopin was trying to make aware conditions that exist in then-contemporary society, without politicizing it.

The detachment created by her writing style lessened my enjoyment of the novel, and there was little in it that I did not already know.  I would only recommend it as a study in writings that forge new paths in the literary world.

3 stars (out of 5)
Published 1899
157 pages


About Suzanne

I'm a stay-at-home mom with three kids who loves to read.
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