Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

The Hired Girl

Laura Amy Schlitz

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Motif 1: The Awakening

The Awakening

Kate Chopin, 1899
Famous for: A free-thinking leading lady who refused to be caged by society's expectations. A beginning and an ending at the ocean.

Motifs in literature like The Awakening by Kate ChoinSo Edna Pontellier is ambivalent about motherhood. When Kate Chopin wrote The Awakening, that was just not the way respectable women were supposed to think.

But this is the story of a woman’s struggle to reconcile her desires with society’s expectations. In the late 1890s, society’s expectation was that a mother would put her child’s interests above her own. The virtue of motherhood was unquestioned and inviolate.

Which takes us straight to one of The Awakening‘s main motifs.


Seeing Emily by Joyce Lee Wong: Complicated relationships between parent and child

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Seeing Emily by Joyce Lee Wong

Edna’s relationship with her children in this story is pretty bi-polar. She completely disregards them by shipping them off to their grandmother’s for months on end … only to spoil them rotten on her visit and to treat them like the center of her universe.

Weird? Perhaps. But also explicable.

If you watched this Recap on one of The Awakening’s major themes, you know that one theme is the difficulties of self-expression. Well, the motif of children in this story totally reinforces that.

See, Edna’s children represent the one obligation that’s completely irrevocable. No matter how much she’d like to just cast off her old life and live in a way that’s completely true to who she is, Edna can’t.

Her obligation to her children prevents her from doing so—hence her somewhat complicated feelings toward them.

And Edna’s children limit her in another way, too. In spite of her desire for freedom, Edna is trapped by the thought that her actions will negatively affect the way society views her sons.

“One has to think of the children some time or other,” she tells Doctor Mandelet at the end of the book.

And then, Edna commits suicide.


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