"The Awakening: The Function of Two Contrasting Settings"
In Kate Chopin's controversial novel "The Awakening", the protagonist, Mrs. Edna Pontellier, experiences a personal rebirth, becoming an independent, sexual, and feeling woman, shunning the restraints of the oppressive society in which she lives. This awakening happens on Grand Isle, a luxurious island on which Edna vacations in the summer. Following her awakening, she must return to her permanent home in New Orleans. Through the two settings (The Grand Isle and New Orleans), Chopin shows the reader the rift between Edna and her husband Leonce; this disparity ties into a larger theme of the difference between love and possession, and the contrast between freedom and oppression.
In the first chapter, the reader is introduced to Edna's husband, Leonce Pontellier, who is sitting on the porch while his wife swims with her young admirer, Robert. Leonce, a New Orleans businessman, is obviously out-of-place in the lush, relaxing atmosphere of Grand Isle. He is irritated by the sounds and goings-on around him, such as the Madame Lebrun's parrot and the Farival twins playing piano, and hardly seems impressed by the beauty of the land; rather, the narrator describes the young people playing croquet and the woman...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 1039 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 8013 literature essays, 2248 sample college application essays, 348 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in