For my history class, I was required to read The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I rented the book and read it grudgingly, expecting nothing amazing. After all, it was assigned by a history teacher. But I was blown away.
“Chopin set The Awakening in and around New Orleans, Louisiana. The novel opens on the vibrant Grand Isle, a favored summer spot for many New Orleans French Creoles, where Edna and Léonce Pontellier, along with their two children, are vacationing. A Kentucky native with a strict Protestant upbringing, Edna appears enamored by the free-spirited Creole culture and enthralled by the island’s dreamy, luxuriant atmosphere. She undergoes a profound awakening and falls in love with Robert Lebrun, who flees to Mexico to avoid the potential scandal. Although the Pontellier family returns to life in New Orleans, Edna has changed irrevocably. Refusing her familial and societal duties, Edna moves out of her husband’s home, indulges in her own artistic talents, develops eccentric friendships, and unapologetically yields to the sexual advances of the roguish Alcée Arobin. Yet Edna’s deeper desires remain unsatisfied. Disenchanted by her life as a piece of property and distraught at Robert’s second abandonment, Edna Pontellier returns to Grand Isle and succumbs to the sea’s final enchantment.” -Mary Alice Kirkpatrick
What really spoke to me about this book was firstly, the abundance of deep, relatable truths that were expressed. Kate Chopin has such a wonderful way about her style that is somewhere in between elevated and common, so that it is easy to understand but still eloquently portrays the point. For example:
“The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude.”
And I loved the message. I don’t plan on becoming unhappy in my marriage someday and being unfaithful, but I see Edna as a sort of role model. It amazes me the amount of strength and courage she had. I too strive to be an independent individual in my life. I think it’s important to hear stories of women like her, because if she had discovered her fortitude earlier in life, she may have had the opportunity to be truly happy and be with who she wanted to instead of having to run from all of her commitments. This is a skill I’m working on so that I don’t set myself up for failure.
If we deny ourselves our true feelings, it may come back to hurt us later. I used to not be able to say no, but I’ve been working on making my sentiments known and taking action when I want to see a change. Living a more active life is the way to lead a happy life. Passivity will only lead to pain.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone going through a change in their lives or working on bettering themselves. So basically, everyone should read it 🙂