The Awakening

The Symbolic use of Children in The Awakening College

The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, explores the emotional and spiritual consequences of sexism in the early 1900’s. During this time, women were legally viewed as the property of their husbands, and were often shamed for things like sexual promiscuity, lack of dependence on a husband, taking up jobs other than homemaker, and failure to dedicate their lives to the lives of their children. While the process of childbirth and childcare is a very necessary thing for the continuation of the human race, it is depicted here in a negative light, as a sign of entrapment, dependance, and conventionality. However, unlike many other issues of sexual discrimination, the natural obligations of childbearing cannot be reversed because they are innate, biological functions, giving this concept an important role in the central conflict of the novel. In The Awakening, Chopin uses children to symbolize women’s inherent and unavoidable duties, in order to express the depth of their oppression.

All that the protagonist, Edna, desires is to be free of responsibilities that other people so frequently place on her shoulders. She wants to be completely independent and to rely only on herself for the things she needs in life. The motive behind this desire...

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