Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening” is a chronicle of the round character Edna Pontellier – a wife of Leone and a mother of two sons – on how she struggled to come to terms with her unconventional views on motherhood and femininity against the prevailing background of traditional social mind-sets.
Through the interactions of the Edna with other characters such as Robert Lebrun, Alcee Arobin and Adelle Ratignolle, the author artistically reveals how the subjective marriage deprives Edna of her happiness, freedom and independence. Having read all the chapters of the novel, it is apparent that Chopin remains one of the best story-teller. She makes good use of highly descriptive language and an ideal background setting to convey her message. For instance, the serene and high-class background of the Grand Isle; New Orleans with its cool beaches during the summer holiday prompts the readers to perceive the physical surroundings within which the story is set. The corresponding emotions of the characters also evoke alternating themes of love, romance, and umbrages. Apart from the outstanding narration by the author, conflict and sharp contrast are yet other powerful techniques that give the story its compelling nature.
Throughout the story, Edna is portrayed by Chopin as being always in a dilemma or conflict – a phenomenon that deeply attracts the attention of readers. The enslaving marriage and burden of motherhood is contrasted with her yearning for independence and freedom that comes with its disengagement. Finally, the use of suspense by the author is remarkable. Not a single reader can foresee the unfolding of events in the book. As Chopin narrates the story, nobody could tell that the flourishing affair between Edna and Robert Lebrun would lead to a tragic end of solitude. As such, readers find themselves absorbed into the story since they want to know the next episode.