The Awakening

Morality and Self-sacrifice

Kate Chopin's master novel, The Awakening, takes the modern reader to an earlier time while still provoking the questions of morality and self-sacrifice that exist in the present age. Edna Pontellier, the protagonist of the story, places herself as the individual against society from the onset of the novel. Throughout initial chapters, her sporadic characteristics and actions worthy of rebuke lead to a breakdown of her moral integrity. These behaviors permit her eventually to become a woman that not only her Creole culture, but civilization in general no longer accepts.

Edna's plight thoughout the entire novel perfected her status as the individual against society. From the inception of the story, her uncommon reserve toward her children placed her in abnormal standing. Her behavior, not necessarily of neglect, rather of apathetic involvement in their lives contrasted the ideal motherly figure of the age. Her friend, Madame Ratignolle, on the other hand, showed quite a reverse position towards her children and husband. She possessed the dependent attitude which the Creole society not only encouraged, but in some aspects required. But, this approach toward domestic responsibilities was something Edna was not able to...

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