Yep... THAT ending! Valid warning, Ms. B. I'm not exactly sure if I love it or hate it. In a way the reader never knows what is really going on inside Edna's mind given the detached and ambiguous narration. I think it was a fitting ending in that it was completely liberating and Edna was finally being consumed by her Awakening. Just as the sea was where she began to free her body and soul, the sea and her become one as she dies. However, Edna does not dread death itself, she finds the touch of the sea "sensuous,enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace" (Chopin 156). She welcomes death as the final stage of her awakening, the last step in becoming resolutely free. The use of symbolism in the last few pages is also overwhelming. We can see that the bird going "down, down to the water" is a reflection of Edna's predicament (Chopin 156). Throughout the novel, Edna has been compared to birds and in her demise, a bird is also collapsing. Furthermore, an interesting dynamic in this final section was Edna and Robert's relationship. Even though they are trapped by Victorian costumes, they profess their love physically to the other. However, the major factor I believe causing Robert's abandonment was Edna's refusal to be objectified as she states "If he were to say 'Here, Robert, take her and be happy; she is yours', I should laugh at you both" (Chopin 146). Edna's freedom and independence ranks higher than her infatuation for Robert. In conclusion, this ending is prone to multiple interpretations, which I am eager to explore more deeply in class.
Was Edna's death suicide? If so, was it cowardly of her to do so?
Why didn't Edna continue to defy social convention and provide an example inside Victorian society?
Was her death compelled by loneliness, amorous disappointment, fear of ostracism or desire to control her destiny?
One connection I made was to Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. In the final part of the book, Steinbeck includes allegorical imagery of an unsuspecting snake being snatched by a heron. This mirrored Lennie's imminent demise. In The Awakening, Chopin also uses animal imagery to reflect Edna's fate in a very similar manner. Another connection I made was to Florence and the Machine's song Never Let Me Go. Florence has used the ocean as a recurring theme in her albums. In this particular song, Florence tries to recreate the feeling of being enveloped by the ocean: "In the arms of the ocean, so sweet and so cold/ And all this devotion, I never knew it all" (Welch). This sensation of closeness to the sea is shared by these intensely lyrical manifestations. I'd like to think Florence's song would play at the ending credits of the movie adaptation.
Title: Enveloped and Liberated by Death
We can drown in dreams too! - Pgs. 139-157
And indeed she was still trapped. The end was beautifully artistically correct to her inside feeling. She was not free at all. Even when Edna saw the light of hope at the end of the tunnel, she wasn’t able to reach it without drowning in her own feelings all-awake at the same time. Edna tried to die in honor of her feelings after taking the led to a blind way. Edna acted upon Robert this is seen in the text “…How delicious it would be to have him there with her!” (Chopin 140) The syntax of word choice was used in this quote because it says it would have been great if he were there with her, not she with him. Edna was there for Robert, but Robert wasn’t fully there for her. Maybe the problem of Edna is that she over trusted her feelings “She answered her husband with friendly evasiveness,-- not with any fixed design to mislead him, only because all sense of reality had gone out of her life; she had abandoned herself to fate, and waited the consequences with indifference” (Chopin 140) This quote perfectly explains what happened to Edna at her end. I must say I wasn’t at all surprised of what she was going to do when she decided to go back to the Grande isle.
I connect Edna with the great Frida Kahlo, just as Frida Edna painted and suffered inside. Also at the same time both of them took different paths. Frida learned how to live with her suffering. Edna did not. When Edna was swimming she remembered something Madame Reisz once told her: “The artist must posses the courageous soul that dares and defies”(Chopin 156) Edna defied her world and dared but not with her art and Frida Kahlo once said: "I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality." (Kahlo, Frida) this made question about something that was never stated in the book. Why did Edna only painted objects and photography’s ? Did she ever painted her reality?
While reading this book at first I didn’t like the beginning I find it o be repetitive and tedious, but compared to the end, I find the end to be sad but amusing at the same time. The 3 last pages are poetry.
Edna in conclusion was born and died in the sea. She realized she was being egoist at least towards her sons, she felt trapped to them for the rest of her life. I think what was the thing that make her decision was Robert note. “Good-by—because I love you”(Chopin 156) She realized Robert wasn’t prepared to go against society and defying it by starting a life with a married woman even when the books says “…since it was the fashion to be in love with married people”(Chopin 153) So Robert wasn’t really in love with her?
To end, the fact that made Edna accomplish her fate was of having thought she would never could start fresh and new. “She thought of Léonce and the children. They were a part of her life. But they need not have thought that they could possess her, body and soul”(Chopin 156) This makes clear for me that she did not really loved them as a mother should because she preferred not to be with them after all. She was not a woman and mother that belonged to that epoch for sure…
Tittle: “Suicide is a human way of telling SOCIETY, 'You can't fire me - I quit!”
― Bill Maher
Cold. Warm. Beautiful. Strange. Edna. Mother. Mother. Edna. Edna-Death. By the end of these chapters, I had goose bumps all over me. I couldn’t even think clearly. I don’t know if what I perceived is accurate, but this is what I have discovered: “In water Edna was born, in water she dies”. The Ocean for me represents Edna`s dreams. She is like the Ocean; she is moody like the waves, sensuous and has the same free evaporating desire. However, in these few chapters, Edna comes to the realization, that even though she adores freedom, she cannot give up on her boys. Like Mrs. Ragtinolle had said, “Think of the children, Edna. Oh think of the children” (Chopin 149). Edna Pontellier becomes confused on what really matters to her, she sees herself trapped. She knows that if she gives up on her children to claim her freedom, maybe she will ruin their lives forever; and if she gives up her on herself, she will live in countless misery. Thus, she chooses the option of giving her gift of being awakened back to where it belonged: to the sea.
Edna realizes in this paradox, that “youth is given up to illusions. It seems to be a provision of nature; a decoy to secure mothers for the race. And Nature takes no account of moral consequences, of arbitrary conditions which we create, and we feel obligated to maintain at any cost” (Chopin 151). In this quote we see the Doctor talking with Edna, where he in truth says that Nature takes no account of the consequences she subjects men to construct its sexist society. By Nature`s own standards, she doesn’t see that by having women deliver and take care of the children, she will subject all women to be forever positioned as sacrificial mothers. Edna, unfortunately sees that what he said was true. Enforcedly she realizes that her dreams of independency are great, lustrous, however, too erudite to be accepted by her society. Once she said that she wouldn’t give up on herself for no one, not even for her children. But she understands clearly afterwards that even though she wants to fight for her rights “by trampling upon the lives, the hearts, the prejudices of others”; It is too much “to trample upon little lives” (Chopin 151). Her children`s lives have nothing to do with her misery and she realizes that even on regards to her little care towards them, she has a duty of at least spearing them of suffering. She doesn’t like “being forced to do things (…) But one has to think of the children some time or other” (Chopin 150). I know that for anyone who is reading this may think I am being overly dramatic, but I think Chopin has just convinced me of never being a mother.
In my concept, Edna will see herself in a difficult position. I believe she choses death because then she wouldn’t be giving up on her true self by being with her children or ruining them by not. I think she kills herself as a true resistance, by claiming her position, her character. She kills herself to prevent her awakening of being oppressed by living with her boys. Furthermore, Edna proves to care about her children’s welfare and what are her options when she states: “There was no one thing in the world that she desired. There was no human being whom she wanted near her except Robert; and she even realized that the day would come when he, too, and the thought of him would melt out of her existence, leaving her alone. The children appeared before her like antagonists who had overcome her; who had overpowered and sought to drag her into the soul's slavery for the rest of her days.” (Chopin 155). Here Edna admits that she sees indeed her freedom being slashed from her if she chooses her children, but knows that people like Robert will in a few days disappear from her mind, like many others together with her freedom. This is the realization that she has a natural commitment with her children, but as well to her new awakened self.
Moreover I could connect the ending of the book to the Bible. There`s a passage that I wasn’t quite sure if it made any allusions to the Bible, but when I read this I could only think of Eve. Edna describes the sea`s voice as “ seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring (…)” and then she “ became naked under the sky! how delicious! She felt like some new-born creature” (Chopin 156). In this passage I thought that the sea represented the snake as “The foamy wavelets curled up to her white feet, and coiled like serpents about her ankles” inviting her to death (Chopin 156). The sea, juts like the snake from Eden’s Garden, whispered and indulged Eve (Edna) to eat the apple that will expel her from ‘heaven’. In Edna’s case, I believe ‘Heaven’ repres
The text cut again, here`s the rest:
In Edna’s case, I believe ‘Heaven’ represents her past feelings. These feelings are related to her childhood that she so much describes, and the boys she is leaving behind as well as the dreams of pleasure of being a free and independent woman. Furthermore, if you noticed, the first action of independence made by Edna was learning how to swim in that same sea in the beginning of the book. So it seems natural that she will give back to the sea what she learned in it by drowning herself at the end. Exactly at the same place Edna had taken her first act of independence, it will be the same place where she is going to give it back to mother Nature. This may seem confusing, but I believe she is killing her self, to save herself.
Another connection I could make was with Sylvia Plath. Even though some would say Sylvia Plath was a crazy person who killed herself by putting her head on the oven, she was a great writer; and just like Edna, a feminist. Sylvia saw the hypocrisy of society. She saw smart women who ended up marrying men, and as a result become sort of maids. She realized in sheer terror that maybe she didn’t have a position on society, except of what society misreads from Nature (Doctor talks about this). In the Bell Jar, Plath talks about what she is. Throughout the book she seems unsure of what she is suppose to be. She continues to repeat, “I am, I am, I am”, as if, like Edna trying to find what sort of woman she is. These both strong women realize that in some ways they think differently from all the rest; and that society is too sexist. They find themselves in what seems like a struggle, where to both, death means to save themselves from society`s oppression.
I would like to Emphasize that Edna, only refers to Fate, when she sees truly that she has no choice of making her own path. What I mean to say, is that society is so oppressive that when Edna at first regretted something before she was awakened, she blamed Fate because as a women, she believed she could make no choice, everything was predestined by society. After Edna awakened, she didn’t make any reference to Fate because she felt confident enough that she would be responsible for her own desires and actions, just like a man. Now, for the first time after awakening, Edna refers to Fate as if to explain why she is going to kill herself. I think Chopin tries to portray Edna seeing this reality now, because indeed there is no way she can make an independent choice. Like before, she sees she cannot act independently because there will be severe consequences, and one of them means to lose her new self forever while taking responsibility for her children. What seems like the struggle between society and Edna, Edna apparently thinks she will lose, except if she doesn’t allow her true self to be oppressed by society. Thus, she commits suicide.
However, that is just my interpretation of Fate. What is your interpretation? Do you really think Edna killed herself as a form of preserving her new identity? If you were Edna, what would you have done? Look at the personification of Nature, notice how Chopin capitalizes it, why do you think she does that?
Look at the Quote:
“A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water”(Chopin 156).
What do you think Chopin tried to portray in this foreshadowing?
Title: “The Sea’s Soothing Song of Solitude”
Pg. 139 – 157
No glorification or glamorization of death. No ‘Hollywood’ suicide scene. Does that remind all of you of something? It reminded me of 2 books in particular, that our class has read in the last 2 years. First of all, “Of Mice and Men”, where the last scene ends with a ‘bang’… literally! Little to no aftermath presented, and not much way to know what was coming the reader’s way. In the case of the Awakening, there were obvious clues towards the end of the book, such as “Edna began to feel uneasy. She was seized with a vague dread. Her own like experiences seemed far away, unreal, and only half remembered. She recalled faintly an ecstasy of pain, the heavy odor of chloroform, a stupor which had deadened sensation,[…] added to the great unnumbered multitude of souls that come and go.” (Chopin 149). This passage sums up Edna’s decent into death, and taken out of context, could be mistaken by a scene on Edna’s death bed.
Another literary work that our class has worked with and that can be connected to the ending of The Awakening is “The Great Gatsby”, in which Gatsby gets shot towards the end of Fitzgerald’s novel. No one is there for him, in the end, and he simply ‘dies’. Edna also dies alone, and similarly to Gatsby, spent her life (or a portion of it) towards a goal so great that it drove her away from those around her. In Gatsby’s case, it was wealthy and impressing Daisy; in Edna’s case, it was self-assertion that distanced her from most aspects of her life, and left her with nothing.
I am still left with some questions regarding the book in general, but the one that really grinds my gears is, what do children symbolize? I am aware that Edna is often portrayed with a child-like fascination as to all her new abilities as a newly independent woman, but I mean, for instance, in the following quote, “Think of the children, Edna. Oh think of the children! Remember them!” (Chopin 148), I’m not quite sure what this symbolizes.
No body no proof
Sam, I completely agree with your connections. I thought of those two books as well. Much like in The Great Gatsby the main characters death is not given as much value as one would imagine. Edna's death was completely uncalled for. It seems like she had already reached freedom and gotten everything she wished for or maybe only death can bring freedom? Is death the only way to inner peace? I was also very intrigued about what children symbolize towards the end of the book. I think it is interesting how Edna never thought much of her children, she never really cared, but they were still one of the last things she had on her mind before dying. People who were mentioned more often like the lovers and the widow were not present during the last instances of Edna's life, so there is a contrast between what was important in the beginning and what mattered towards the end. Kate Chopin just like many other authors left the ending to your imagination. "There was the hum of bees, and the musky odor of pinks filled the air." (Chopin 157) That is the last sentence of the novel. Can one really assume that she died? Maybe it would be a little odd not to believe she died, but when it comes down to it, its interpretation. We don't know where Robert went or why. We don't know how Léonce and Arobin reacted to the tragic news. It is up to the reader to figure out the last pieces of the novel. It is delightful when the author gives the reader an opportunity to finish the story.
I am forced to disagree with your ideas. I do not believe that Edna's death was completely random. This ending obviously has a meaning and the author seemed to slyly plan it out to lead to such a point. Instead of stating that she had reached the freedom that she wanted, I believe we first must try to understand why the author made the story end the way that it did. In chapter 39 when she states "How strange and awful it seemed to stand naked under the sky! How delicious! “She felt like some new-born creature, opening its eyes in a familiar world that it had never known." The words awful and new-born already lean toward some sort of happening, and since the novel is approaching the end, it is obvious that this foreshadowing increases even more. Along with this, during the whole novel there are countless referenced to freedom, and as you questioned, and I answer now, the only path to complete peace is in fact death. The only absolute freedom that one has in life is in fact the freedom to kill themselves (although there are other influences on this).
Although you may argue that Edna did not in fact intended to commit suicide, this is not what I am relating to. I am arguing how much of this could one guess was going to happen. Her death isn’t a rootless random happening, such as her being hit on the head with a piano or being stabbed out of context for an ending such as in the film "Pay it forward". It is something that the author comes building with time. The way that her death is insinuated, has been built already with the numerous references to the sea. The sea is represented as a forbidden fruit, which is a metaphor for her main temptation of searching for love. This forbidden fruit in the end also represents her punishment. And, if you know anything about the bible, the forbidden fruit, the temptation, lead to a consequence, in this case, her death. So, I do in fact disagree with death being her reach of freedom, and it being in fact represented her punishment.
The Beauty of Surprises
Chapters XXXV - to the end
I was absolutely marveled after I finished reading this literary piece. After I was done, I closed the book, and just hung for a while, with my eyes closed in disbelief, I was shocked. Of course after she entered the sea and swam her objective became clear to me, but there still was a slight hope that it would change. I was truly heartbroken, and I say so, with all the honesty I can possibly gather. Robert's noble action of leaving her was the biggest plot twist ever. The ending was beautiful, touching, emotional, I read the ending in awe, as I probably read a book with the biggest and most unexpected plot twist I have ever read. I still do not fully grasp the idea of her suicide, and I am specially annoyed that like a couple of pieces I have read, Chopin gave no ending. She left the story hanging, a technique I greatly admire as it gets one to think about everything. Where did Robert go? How would he react to the news? What about Mr. Pontellier, would he ever understand? What has become of Arobin? What will be Victor's reaction when he finds out about such? How will Mademoiselle Reisz cope with the loss? Will she even care?
My mind now is filled with unanswered questions, but I again, take my hat off to Kate Chopin. I now am honored that I've read this book, for I with all due honesty, did not look forward to reading it. After I read the back cover of the book I expected it to be a boring story about a woman fighting for her writes, but no, Chopin has gone against everything that I previously expected, she has truly impressed me, and taken my respect for her to another level. What I think is funny, is that on the last post, I wrote it, with the surety that Edna and Robert would get together, and would live happily ever after. I could clearly see this cliche happening. Now, I sit here in disbelief, as repeatedly I create the last scene in my head, Edna swimming naked into the distance. There is so much hidden meaning in this last part that I can hardly grasp it. She being naked in the sea has a strong representation, for the sea represented her sexual desires, and she being naked in it, makes it all the more meaningful. Another meaning I could perceive, but not fully comprehend was when Chopin chose the phrase "She felt like some new-born creature, opening its eyes in a familiar world that it had never known" (Chopin 156), Edna has again awakened, everything has a whole new meaning, and a different sense to it. She is like a baby, who is pure, and yet, she is not innocent, she is strong, she is determined. That determination was a matter of emotional outburst. She kept going towards the deeper sea as she thought of Robert leaving her, and as she thought of the "barking of an old dog that was chained to the sycamore tree. The spurs of the cavalry officer clanged as he walked across the porch. There was the hum of bees, and the musky odor of pinks filled the air" (Chopin 157). The latter of the quote, is the last sentence of the book, theoretically, the ending, yet, there is no conclusion, Chopin leaves us to wonder. Though beautifully and strategically chosen to do such, her choice frustrates me greatly, for now, I will never have concrete answers.
A Sea of Questions
Pg. 139 – 157
Ms. Chopin! Wait! Do not end yet! What happens to Raoul and Etienne, Edna's sons? What about Robert? Will he suffer with Edna's unexpected death? Will Victor be the one who first her body? Or will anyone even find her body? This was the most amazing and touching ending that Kate Chopin could've given to the story. There’s only one word that can describe what I think about this conclusion: WOW! I was seriously assuming that Edna would run away with Robert, right after that “love” moment they had back at Edna’s house. “She leaned over and kissed him – a soft, cool, delicate kiss, whose voluptuous sting penetrated his whole being – then she moved away from him. He followed, and took her in his arms, just holding her close to him. She put her hand up to his face and pressed his cheek against her own. The action was full of love and tenderness (Chopin 145).” But then, Edna went over to Madame Ratignolle’s house and everything changed there. It was after those twelve words Adéle said, that Edna changed her way of reasoning and started thinking about the consequences of her actions. “Think of the children, Edna. Oh think of the children! ‘Remember them! (Chopin 149).” At that point, Edna knew that if she continued acting as she was, she would put her children’s future in jeopardy, and she could not do that. As she said, “[…] it makes no difference to me, it doesn’t matter about Leónce Pontellier -- but of Raoul and Etienne (Chopin 155).” Until now, everything going fine. And then, BAMMM! Robert leaves her! All the new feelings and emotions that had been building up inside of Edna suddenly came together and collapsed. I must say that that climax was much more epic than the ending. One of the main reasons for Edna’s awakening was Robert, and all the love she felt for him. However now, he left her and she has nothing. She’s completely alone. No husband, no children, no lover, no friends. Nothing. Then, after staying up for an entire night, she had made a decision, even though, no one, not even the reader, knew about it. When she arrived at Grand Isle, I noticed that Edna was acting differently. She was extremely indifferent, and at that moment, I knew that something was coming. Some astonishing. For the first time, Edna had thought broadly about her course of actions, and she knew exactly what she was going to do. From the part that she starts undressing herself, I knew that she was going to commit suicidal. Edna sees death the only way to escape from her deep sadness and mainly the way that she was limited to only being a present mother and devoted wife. Unfortunately, she was trapped in a society/period of time that she did not want to live in. Also, by killing herself, she is denying to sacrifice her illusions for anyone, especially her beloved boys, Raoul and Etienne.
I have to agree with Marcus when he said, “She being naked in the sea has a strong representation, for the sea represented her sexual desires, and she being naked in it, makes it all the more meaningful.” In fact, I also concluded that. Throughout the book, little by little, Edna has been discovering herself. First her shoulders, then her legs… I mean, being naked in the sea was the experience she was missing to complete her sexual discovery.
One connection I want to make is Edna Pontellier’s death with the character Neil Perry’s death, from the movie “Dead Poets Society. Neil was a high school student who wanted to be an actor, however he knew that his father would disapprove his decision. Not concerned about his father’s opinion, he auditions for a play and fortunately get’s the role. After his father finds out about it, he demands Neil to withdraw it. Even though his teacher advised him, to have a ‘friendly’ talk with his father, Neil decides to go against his father’s desires, and continues in the play. At the end of the play, his father shows up and forces him to pack his bags so he can go to Harvard’s Medical School. At the end, Neil shoots himself because he cannot be someone who he wants to be. And there’s exactly where Edna comes in. Edna wanted to be an independent and free woman, whoever society does not permit her to. So, they are left with no other option, than death.
I had the same kind of feeling when the story ended. For me, there was a lot to come yet. The question about the sons came to my mind right when we discovered about her death. I also wanted to know much more about Robert’s reactions when he finds out about her death, since this will be a good way to discover if he really loved her. What about her body? However, even though there was a lot to come, I personally like the feeling of stopping and thinking about what could have happened after the end of the novel. It was a shocking, confused, but amazing conclusion. Giu, I also thought that Edna and Robert would end up together, and now that she is dead I felt sorry about him, what about if he really loved her? Poor Robert =( I will have to agree with Bernardo: “I'm not exactly sure if I love it or hate it.
“ However, I got to one part of the book in which I was kind of confused. Edna by her awakenings, was showing no affection or love for her children at all, she was not present or anything, but then she says “it makes no difference to me, it doesn’t matter about Leónce Pontellier -- but of Raoul and Etienne” (Chopin 155). One thing that I thought it was interesting and I discovered as the story goes, it was that Edna always thinks before acting out, and HOW COULD THE STORY END LIKE THAT?????? “Edna walked on down to the beach rather mechanically, not noticing anything special except that the sun was hot. She was not dwelling upon any particular train of thought. She had done all the thinking which was necessary after Robert went away, when she lay awake upon the sofa till morning.” (Chopin 155)
I'm not sure if its gonna sound like a crazy comparison, however I connected the end of the book with "The Great Gatsby". Throughout the entire book I made some connections, however it is impossible not to mention how the end looks almost the same, even going to two different directions. Gatsby's death for example, it showed the feeling of being abandoned, and the being lonely, however MANY questions were not clear in the end of the book about his love with Daisy, about how she felt about his death and on and on.. In Edna's case, the same happened, even though she was not "hate" by others, there was questions about how Robert felt about her death, and his reactions with it.
Venus in birth and death
Pg 139- 157
I am not too sure what I was expecting. I am not too sure whether I am surprised. The whole thing is rather shocking. The ending does make sense though. It’s almost like a summary of the whole story. “She felt like some new-born creature, opening its eyes in a familiar world that it had never known. The foamy wavelets curled up to her white feet, and coiled like serpents about her ankles… The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace. She went on and on… She thought of Léonce and the children. They were a part of her life. They needn’t have thought that they could possess her, body and soul… the shore was far behind her, and her strength was gone” (Chopin 156). The passage seems to describe her awakening; from the first moment she learned how to swim to when she drowns out of exhaustion. She delved into the sea (which I think is a metaphor for desire and a certain joie de vivre) and swam. Unlike the others, she had not always known how to swim, she was indeed like a new-born. The sea got hold of her, and didn’t let her go. From then on, she saw things in a new light, with new feelings, that were so unfamiliar to her she did not know how to moderate them. The sea, who gave her a new and amazing life, also took it away. I find that the ending also shows how selfish she was, in a way, I do not mean because she decided to not let her children possess her, but rather because she asked for a nice dinner with fish from her hosts (who did not know they were to be hosts until she unexpectedly showed up), all the while knowing she was to commit suicide. I say she knows that she was going to commit suicide, even though she did it in a dream-like state, because it says that; “She was not dwelling on any particular line of thought. She had done all the thinking which was necessary after Robert went away, when she lay awake upon the sofa till morning” (Chopin 155). She had thought about her suicide. Suicide was the only way for her to avoid being possessed, body and soul, by her children. Her husband, she could resist, but her children… The only way to escape their greedy clutches would be death. I agree with the comparison Victor made between Edna and Venus is valid. Venus was made from the foam of the sea, completely nude at her awakening and a goddess of love. Edna awakened with the sea, and only then did she truly experience love and desire. It is fitting, then, that Edna should die, completely nude the way Venus was created, in the embrace of the sea. I am much happier with this kind of suicide than I would be if she decided to give up her “body and soul” to her children and husband. It would be tragic if that happened.
Edna’s suicide reminds me of samurai warriors’ seppuku. Beyond the fact that both of them are suicide, it’s the reason for suicide that makes them so alike. Seppuku is suicide by a samurai because he has lost his honor. If he were to continue living, he would live in disgrace. I find that Edna’s suicide was because she did not want to be confronted with the choice of being herself or surrendering herself to her children. Neither suicides were because the person was depressed or absolutely miserable. Yes, it can be argued that Edna was miserable because Robert left her, but she could always search for him again. He’s a very social person, someone would know where he is. More than Robert leaving her, I think it was Madame Ratignolle’s baby incident (I have forgotten the English word for parir) was what shook Edna and made her take this decision. I am unsure though.
There are several things I do not understand, or I would like to ask for the sake of asking. Is it possible that the episode where she enters the sea was an illusion, something she imagined? Why choose Victor and Mariquieta as the last people she would see or speak to? If she was exhausted and couldn’t swim anymore, couldn’t she just float? Isn’t it impossible for one to voluntarily drown? Where did Robert go now (He’s starting to really annoy me)? Would things have been different if she talked to the doctor? Does the doctor represent something?
By the way, are the short stories after Edna’s story part of The Awakening? I understand how La Folle and Mademoiselle Pauline both went through an awakening of their own. I can also see how Armand Aubigny was awakened after discovering his mother’s heritage. I am still amazed at the story; “Désirée’s Baby”, I believe it was my favorite of all of them. That story still makes me so incredibly mad. I cannot believe that Désirée committed suicide, or that I did not notice that it could have been Armand that was of negroe origin. There were several clues, such as; “’Look at my hand; whiter than yours; Armand&rsqu
“A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water” (Chopin 156). It was impossible for me to not immediately recall Mademoiselle Reisz’s assertion in chapter 27: “The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth” (Chopin 112). Although Edna had the courage to learn how to fly above tradition and prejudice, she was brought back down to earth by the consideration of her flight’s affect on her children. Madame Ratignolle’s labor played a huge role in her decision. It was the moment which a reality sparked in Edna’s mind, when she stopped with her childish and vivid perspective of her awakening and realized that, as I mentioned in my previous post ,“the fairies” wouldn’t fix it all right. When her husband came back, she most certainly would not want to be with him anymore, or else she would be giving her true self away, going back to being the caged parrot she was before. However, by creating a scandal she would be ruining her children’s lives; she did, after all, adore them and they utterly depended on her and loved her. She recognized that, by being their mother, she was responsible for their well-being. Drowning in the sea became, for her, the final step towards her liberation and the best manner to control the situation. In addition, to spare her family from the disgrace suicide would bring, Edna made arrangements so that her death to seem like an incident. She specifies what she would like for lunch, asks for towels, and so on. I have to say, unfortunately, for the fact I had read the introduction, the ending occurrences did not surprised me. I was though, impressed with the symbology and the beautiful and sensual manner Chopin was able to describe Edna’s suicide. It became more of a soothing ending than a tragedy. Edna’s choice for the sea was also very appropriate. Given the character’s new passion for sensuality and the fact it was the place where she truly flourished back in the beginning, the sea became like Edna’s everlasting lover, one which would not “melt out her existence” (Chopin 155), like Robert eventually would. Robert was too caught up with traditions, he would never be able to comprehend Edna’s thoughts and feelings, and would never have the courage to run away with her being that she was married. Edna realized that, and made the previously mentioned conclusion. I could very easily compare Edna’s final decision with that of a character in the movie “Remember Me”. The main character of this story is also suffocated by expectations and prejudice and finds his liberation in his death, by jumping off a building. Like in “The Awakening”, this final occurrence is demonstrated marvelously, as if the character were flying instead of dying. Even thought I feel like Edna’s decision was much deeper, given the fact she proved to have an extremely strong and defiant soul, while in the movie, suicide seemed like the best escape for the character, both of them were full of feeling in their last moments.
Is there a reason why Edna’s last thoughts were mostly directed to memories of her childhood?
Why does Edna mention Mademoiselle Reizs would have laughed? Does Edna herself not see her decision as something which proves she has a “courageous soul that dares and defies” (Chopin 156)?
Chapters 35-39 - The Only Alternative
The conclusion of “The Awakening” was filled with surprises. Edna doesn`t see Robert for many days after that embarrassing night that angered him. She stopped visiting her friends at their houses and suffered greatly awaiting Robert: “Each morning she awoke with hope, and each night she was a prey to despondency” (Chopin 105). The wait is so long that she eventually loses hope and decides to return to her normal routine. A couple days later, she meets Robert unexpectedly in a garden. They are both shocked to see each other but they decide to sit and talk for a while. Edna demonstrates her anger by asking him “why he has kept away from her so long” (Chopin 107). Later on, they go back to Edna`s house where they ignore the usual rituals: “she did not ask him to remain” (Chopin 108). This demonstrates that they are now very close to each other and an invitation to enter Edna`s house is not required. This reminds me of modern day relationships where couples are allowed into each other`s house with no need for permission. At her house, Edna and Robert finally open up and declare their love to each other: “I love you…only you; no one but you” (Chopin 109). This is a crucial point in the novel because not only she admits her love to Robert for the first time, but tells him she doesn`t feel the same way towards Arobin, her husband or any other man. However, she has to leave him and when she comes back, he is nowhere to be found. There is only a note in which he wrote: “I love you. Good-by – because I love you” (Chopin 113). This not only leaves Edna into pieces, but fools the reader who was expecting a happy ending. The next day, Edna walks down to the beach where she removes all of her clothes and walked in the ocean. Chopin ends the novel with Edna`s struggle to keep on walking in: “She went on and on…her arms and legs were growing tired…exhaustion was pressing upon and overpowering her” (Chopin 117). Why did Robert leave her?
Blog entry #4: Chapters XXXV- XXXIX (35-the end)
Edna is ahead of her time, "If he were to say 'Here, Robert, take her and be happy; she is yours', I should laugh at you both" (Chopin 109) she no man’s property, not even Roberts and that will not change. The imagery in the ending is great, subtle mentions in the beginning and middle of the book that come back at the end. Her aspiration is absolute freedom, meaning her gender is her curse in a society where only men are truly free. Her earthly body holds her back from what she truly wants. After she was born anew from the ocean the day after she heard the piano piece she has been living for two things; freedom and her love for Robert. The first blow was Robert who just left for good causing Edna to like “a bird with a broken wing… beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water.” (Chopin 116) With one of two life purposes shattered and freedom forever out of reach because of her body she who had soared so high fell back to where she began, the water ending where she began. The Doctor offered her an alternative, which she did not take because she was Edna; a woman who live by her own term. It seems only fitting that she die by her own terms. Life is a cycle that always ends in death, Edna only really lived after she was born again in the water. In death Edna will be completely free from her kids, husband, life, gender and every other restriction that she encountered in life therefore achieving her ultimate aspiration: liberty.
Why do all these older books end in the same way?
A connection I make is between this book, The Awakening, and the book The Great Gatsby. Something that both these books seem to acknowledge is that the only real end is death. Both the characters Gatsby and Edna reach closure through death, closure that would otherwise be impossible.
pg. 139 - 157
For a book with only 204 pages its quite impressive how the conclusion can be described. At first I was shocked, but then I could realize the true meaning of its definition. It all began when Edna and Robert met each other at the garden. "Still she was not astonished when, as she partaking of a modest dinner late in the afternoon, looking into an open book, stroking the cat, which had made friends with her-she was not greatly astonished to see Robert come in at the tall garden gate." (Chopin 142). At my point of view, this scenario was really ironic since Robert wouldn't return to Edna. Also I felt that it could symbolize also a foreshadowing, reuniting Robert and Edna's love to each other. This reminded me a lot, of a movie (The Break-Up) that I saw last week. Is basically a story about a couple that broke-up, and since then they were not dealing well with this situation. Although at the near end, both randomly met each other making them back together. However, Robert started to complain about how cruel Edna was to him, revealing that he doesn't see anyway of both of them together, I could realize another foreshadowing appearing. "No;I only think you cruel, as I said the other day. Maybe not intentionally cruel; but you seem to be forcing me into disclosures which can result in nothing;as if you would have me bare a wound for the pleasure of looking at it, without the intention or power of healing it." (Chopin 143). I noticed that this wouldn't end well for both of them. Even though, they went along. At Edna's house, Robert and her finally declared their love to each other for the first time, which made their relation more intimate. Although Edna had to leave Robert for Adéle, leaving a bitter feeling. When she came back she faced, a letter that Robert wrote before he left forever. "The house was empty. But he scrawled on apiece of paper that lay in the lamplight: I love you. Good-by--because I love you." (Chopin 152) At first, I got confused expecting that Edna and Robert would end together, but then I realized that not always there is a happy ending. Right there, I realized how trap Edna was. She could have left everyone, following Robert. But she needed to do, what had to be done. Conducted by the sea she followed it, with only thinking about her sons and how one day Robert would disappear of her thoughts . "She had said over and over to herself: To-day it is Arobin, to-morrow it will be someone else. It makes no difference to me, it doesn't matter about Léonce Pontellier--but Raoul and Etienne!" (Chopin 155). Since then, Edna understood that she would quit the unessential, but never sacrifice herself for her children. Meanwhile, she took her clothes and walked into the sea until she couldn't anymore with no fear, making her free. In my view, it was the only way to Edna, get out of that trap, making her death symbolize her freedom "She looked into the distance, and the old terror flamed up for an instant, then sank again. Edna heard her father's voice and her sister Margaret's. She heard the barking of an old dog that was chained to the sycamore tree. The spurs of the cavalry officer clanged as he walked across the porch. There was the hum of bees, and the musky odor of pinks filled the air." (Chopin 157). As I finished on reading the last word of the book, I thought of how interesting Chopin ends the story, although its very tragic Edna's way of ending her life, making me wonder if Edna's suicide was a failure or success.
Was Edna’s suicide a failure or a success?
How does the other characters ends?
If Robert loved Edna, why did he left her?
How can Edna’s last thoughts can be described?
How can the story end like that?
Chapters XXXV- XXXIX (35-39)
Here’s the thing... I really expected that kind of ending. Since the beginning, many clues could lead the reader to such a conclusion (not including the fact that every English teacher gives us books that end like this). The greatest one to me is Edna’s swim in chapter 10, where she gets a previous “encounter with death” (Chopin 28) and foreshadows that she will attend to a second meeting. . This type of ending remembers me of the novel “Of Mice and Men” from John Steinbeck. The characters life disappears just like that; because they couldn’t take in all of the conflicts they created themselves. I keep wondering why would she want to kill herself? Didn’t she have other options? Wasn’t there another way? Truth be told, if Kate Chopin wanted her book to be worthy, I don’t believe there was. Here’s why... Robert and Edna finally expressed their love to each other and Robert mentioned that he wished she was free from Leonce so she could become his wife. She tell him that she was “no longer one of Mr. Pontellier's possessions to dispose of or not” (Chopin 108) because she had freed herself from him. When she goes to support Adele she watches the “scene of torture” (Chopin 111) and it makes her remember of her own experience. When she is about to leave she leans to give a good-bye kiss to Adele, who respond in an exhausted voice "Think of the children, Edna. Oh think of the children! Remember them!" (Chopin 111). Edna leaves and thinks about her children but evades the subject and leaves it for the next day. Robert wasn’t there, just his memo, which made Edna grow faint. She realized she couldn’t be with Robert and that she was being turned into a slave of the world, of her children and husband, but to stay in that world she would have to betray herself and her thoughts, so her final decision is to sacrifice herself which would maintain her family and permits her to decide her last act. That’s the only choice she had.
What’s left for us is to imagine how would people react about it? Would anyone understand the meaning of her death? How would each of the characters interpret it?
But Edna also made sure to only leave the sadness behind by making her death look like an accident. She mentioned to Victor that she would be having lunch with him, he is also the one who knows where she went, and so when she doesn’t come they’ll search for her in the water and find her body. She didn’t only decide her fate; she also decided how people envisioned her even after leaving this world.
It’s not written, but known
Pages 139 - end
On this last part of the book, Edna’s metamorphosis is complete; she is a woman completely different than the one in the beginning of the book. As well, she becomes more self-conscious and discovers who she is. Even though Robert is in town, he doesn’t look for her, and so she gives in to her desires and to Arobin. This situation reminds me of a popular saying in Portuguese: “Quem não tem cão caça com gato”. According to Google, some corresponding sayings in English would be: “Make do with what you have” or “A drowning man will clutch at a straw”. I don’t know if these make as much sense in English, but the idea is that if you don’t have what you need or want, which for Edna was Robert, do it with what you have, Arobin. After doing that, she didn’t feel the melancholy at night or the hope when she awoke, which had been common on the last days - an indication that she has changed. Then, when Edna and Robert meet accidentally, they open up their hearts, and Edna says says, “I am no longer one of Mr. Pontellier’s possessions to dispose of or not. I give myself where I choose” (Chopin 146). This shows how she feels confident, independent, and “dona do próprio nariz”, as if she was saying “I am my own woman”.
Following that, Madame Ratignolle’s advice of “Think of the the children, Edna. Oh think of the children! Remember them!” seems to further Edna’s unease initially triggered by the child delivery (Chopin 149). On that night, Edna does not sleep, yet ruminates about life, reflects about the ones close to her and decides on her future. She reached the distressful conclusion that no one besides her children, mattered - not even Robert. Apparently, she feels that her children are the only ones who hold her back to her old self. Yet, she knows that regardless of everything, she is the one who put them in the world, and has an obligation with them. She wanted to be free of everything and everyone, but “The children appeared before her like antagonists who had overcome her; who had overpowered and sought to drag her into the soul’s slavery for the rest of the days. But she knew a way to elude them” (Chopin 155). That way was death. Edna viewed her children as weights that prevented her from doing what she wanted, which is an condemnable and unacceptable perspective to our society. Society standards can also be observed when Edna describes herself as “unwomanly” because she express her feelings and thought. She perceives that society establishes the rules that aren’t written anywhere, but everyone knows of how a man and a woman should behave, and that she does not fit into these ‘norms’. These unwritten but widely known rules reminded me of last year’s Philosophy class, in which we studied the social contract and the modern philosophers’ tentative to explain these rules.
What did the Doctor mean with “It seems to be a provision of Nature; a decoy to secure mothers for the race. And Nature takes no account of moral consequences, of arbitrary conditions which we create, and which we feel obliged to maintain at any cost” (Chopin 151)? Why is the Doctor the only one who could possibly understand Edna? What is special about him?
Why did Adele tell Edna to “Think of the children” (Chopin 149)? Did she know about Robert or Arobin?
How much of the Edna’s life is not included in the narration?
Estranged for her so-called "vulgar" and "morbid" work, Kate Chopin was a writer far ahead of her time. Click here to visit the Kate Chopin International Society.