Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

The Hired Girl

Laura Amy Schlitz

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Final Analysis: 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.

Subtext of suicide in The Awakening| 60second RecapDid Edna have to die? Couldn’t she have split the difference, come up with a compromise, found a way to be true to herself while she pretended to conform just enough to keep people quiet?

And if the answer is “no,” then what the heck was Kate Chopin trying to say? That an honest path in life requires us to commit to total social rebellion? And suicide?

Was Kate Chopin insane?

Let’s get some answers.


 

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The end of The Awakening is ambiguous. What does Edna’s suicide represent? Is it positive? Or negative? A sign of triumph, or an act of resignation? What if I were to tell you that it really doesn’t matter?

Your English teacher might want to scream at me for saying this but, really…forget about the ending of The Awakening for a minute, OK? I want to talk to you about a message that lives on, even if Edna didn’t.

Because while this book is about feminism and a woman’s right to establish her own authentic identity—and as a female myself, I definitely don’t want to gloss over that—it’s actually about something more. Something that embraces guys and girls.

The Awakening is about breaking free from the labels society puts on you. It’s about finding the daring to be yourself.

The Awakening asks you to forget about that little box you live in—the one in which you wear certain clothes and only hang out with certain people and define yourself according to the rules of a certain clique … or not. And I think The Awakening asks you to forget about that box for other people, too. It asks you to see them for who they really are and to learn to speak their language—even if it’s unfamiliar and scary at first.

Maybe Edna triumphed in being herself. Maybe she didn’t. But I know you can. So do it.

 
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