The Awakening

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Overview

Novelist and short story writer Kate Chopin (1851-1904) was the first American woman to deal with women's roles as wives and mothers. The Awakening (1899), her most famous novel, concerns a woman, dissatisfied with her indifferent husband, who gives in to her desire for other men and commits adultery. This is a searing depiction of the religious and social pressures brought to bear on women who transgress restrictive Victorian codes of behavior.

An American classic ...

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Overview

Novelist and short story writer Kate Chopin (1851-1904) was the first American woman to deal with women's roles as wives and mothers. The Awakening (1899), her most famous novel, concerns a woman, dissatisfied with her indifferent husband, who gives in to her desire for other men and commits adultery. This is a searing depiction of the religious and social pressures brought to bear on women who transgress restrictive Victorian codes of behavior.

An American classic of sexual expression that paved the way for the modern novel, The Awakening is both a remarkable novel in its own right and a startling reminder of how far women in this century have come. The story of a married woman who pursues love outside a stuffy, middle-class marriage, the novel portrays the mind of a woman seeking fulfillment of her essential nature.

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Editorial Reviews

Times
Kate Chopin is a pioneer in the treatment of sexuality in American literature… She does not speak only to women,but she speaks most powerfully about them.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Chopin's (1850-1904) The Awakening, whose heroine rejects her husband and children as she indulges in solitude and in an adulterous infatuation, was embraced by the women's movement 70 years after its publication. Although they pale in comparison to the novel, these stories, which comprise Chopin's third and last short-fiction collection, serve to flesh out the Chopin oeuvre and deserve a place on women's studies syllabi. As in The Awakening , the author's social critiques here demythologize women, marriage, religion and family. A women escapes ``the incessant chatter'' of other females at a party and retires to the male domain of the smoking room, where she puffs on hashish and dreams of a love affair torn asunder. The perverse Mrs. Mallard revels in her newfound freedom when informed that her husband is a casualty of a train accident and dies of a heart attack when he shows up alive. Her fiance is wasted by illness and reeks death, and a repulsed Dorothea bolts; elsewhere, a monk is lured by the voice of a woman, a former intimate. And in a twist on the plot of The Awakening , a husband, plagued by suspicions of his late wife's infidelity, casts himself in the river.
From the Publisher
"Shelly Frasier's reading is thick with languor and sensuality as she creates an Edna who feels all but physically present."—-AudioFile
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781425001919
  • Publisher: ReadHowYouWant.com, Limited
  • Publication date: 1/1/2006
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

A precursor of the 20th century's feminist authors, Kate Chopin (1850–1904) wrote short stories and novels for children and adults. The St. Louis native lived in New Orleans for a dozen years and set most of her tales amid Louisiana's Creole culture. Many of her stories were well ahead of their time, and she achieved widespread acclaim only after her death.

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Read an Excerpt

Upon the pleasant veranda of Pere Antoine's cottage, that adjoined the church, a young girl had long been seated, awaiting his return. It was the eve of Easter Sunday, and since early afternoon the priest had been engaged in hearing the confessions of those who wished to make their Easters the following day. The girl did not seem impatient at his delay; on the contrary, it was very restful to her to lie back in the big chair she had found there, and peep through the thick curtain of vines at the people who occasionally passed along the village street.

She was slender, with a frailness that indicated lack of wholesome and plentiful nourishment. A pathetic, uneasy look was in her gray eyes, and even faintly stamped her features, which were fine and delicate. In lieu of a hat, a barege veil covered her light brown and abundant hair. She wore a coarse white cotton 'josie,' and a blue calico skirt that only half concealed her tattered shoes.

As she sat there, she held carefully in her lap a parcel of eggs securely fastened in a red bandana handkerchief.

Twice already a handsome, stalwart young man in quest of the priest had entered the yard, and penetrated to where she sat. At first they had exchanged the uncompromising 'howdy' of strangers, and nothing more. The second time, finding the priest still absent, he hesitated to go at once. Instead, he stood upon the step, and narrowing his brown eyes, gazed beyond the river, off towards the west, where a murky streak of mist was spreading across the sun.

'It look like mo' rain,' he remarked, slowly and carelessly.

'We done had 'bout 'nough,' she replied, in much the same tone.

'It's no chance tothin out the cotton,' he went on.

'An' the Bon-Dieu,' she resumed, 'it's on'y to-day you can cross him on foot.'

'You live yonda on the Bon-Dieu, donc?' he asked, looking at her for the first time since he had spoken.

'Yas, by Nid Hibout, monsieur.'

Instinctive courtesy held him from questioning her further. But he seated himself on the step, evidently determined to wait there for the priest. He said no more, but sat scanning critically the steps, the porch, and pillar beside him, from which he occasionally tore away little pieces of detached wood, where it was beginning to rot at its base.

A click at the side gate that communicated with the churchyard soon announced Pere Antoine's return. He came hurriedly across the garden-path, between the tall, lusty rosebushes that lined either side of it, which were now fragrant with blossoms. His long, flapping cassock added something of height to his undersized, middle-aged figure, as did the skullcap which rested securely back on his head. He saw only the young man at first, who rose at his approach.

'Well, Azenor,' he called cheerily in French, extending his hand. 'How is this? I expected you all the week.'

'Yes, monsieur; but I knew well what you wanted with me, and I was finishing the doors for Gros-Leon's new house' saying which, he drew back, and indicated by a motion and look that some one was present who had a prior claim upon Pere Antoine's attention.

'Ah, Lalie!' the priest exclaimed, when he had mounted to the porch, and saw her there behind the vines. 'Have you been waiting here since you confessed? Surely an hour ago!'

'Yes, monsieur.'

'You should rather have made some visits in the village, child.'

'I am not acquainted with any one in the village,' she returned.

The priest, as he spoke, had drawn a chair, and seated himself beside her, with his hands comfortably clasping his knees. He wanted to know how things were out on the bayou.

'And how is the grandmother?' he asked. 'As cross and crabbed as ever? And with that'—he added reflectively—'good for ten years yet! I said only yesterday to Butrand—you know Butrand, he works on Le Blot's Bon-Dieu place—'And that Madame Zidore: how is it with her, Butrand? I believe God has forgotten her here on earth.''It isn't that, your reverence,' said Butrand, 'but it's neither God nor the Devil that wants her!'' And Pere Antoine laughed with a jovial frankness that took all sting of ill-nature from his very pointed remarks.

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Table of Contents

About the Series
About this Volume

PART I. THE AWAKENING: THE COMPLETE TEXT

Introduction: Biographical and Historical Contexts

The Complete Text [The 1969 Seyersted Edition]

New Cultural Documents
New Two Contemporary Reviews of The Awakening:
From "Recent Novels" (The Nation 69, 3 August 1899, 96)
From "Books of the Week" (Providence Sunday Journal, 4 June 1899, 15)
New Two Principles in Recent American Fiction, James Lane Allen (The Altantic Monthly, October 1897)
New Home Study for Young Ladies: Visiting Cards (from Collier's Cyclopedia of Commercial and Social Information and Treasury of Entertaining Knowledge, 1887)
New The Dressing-Table New Advertisements from Women's Magazines
Lablanche Face Powder (Ladies Home Journal, August 1899)
Braided Wire Bristles and Forms (Ladies Home Journal, May 1899)
Ferris's Good Sense Corset Waists: When Beauty Reigns (Harper's Magazine, January 1899)
The Whitely Exerciser (Ladies Home Journal, December 1896)
New Fashion Plates from Women's Magazines
Plate No. 7 (Godey's Magazine, January 1897)
Plate No. 6 (Godey's Magazine, March 1897)
Plate No. 7 (Godey's Magazine, August 1897)
New A People Who Live Amid Romance, Ruth McEnery Stuart, (Ladies Home Journal, December 1896)
New The Artist and Marriage (The Atlantic Monthly, January 1899)
New What It Means to Be a Wife, Helen Watterson Moody, (Ladies Home Journal, March 1899)
New The True Meaning of Motherhood,Helen Watterson Moody, (Ladies Home Journal, May 1899)
New What Women Find to Do all Day (Ladies Home Journal, April 1899)
New The Evolution of Woman in the South, Walter Gregory, (Godey's Magazine, October 1897)

PART II. THE AWAKENING: A CASE STUDY IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM

A Critical History of The Awakening

Feminist Criticism and The Awakening
What Is Feminist Criticism?
Feminist Criticism: A Selected Bibliography A Feminist Perspective:
Elaine Showalter, Tradition and the Female Talent: The Awakening as a Solitary Book

Gender Criticism and The Awakening
What Is Gender Criticism?
Gender Criticism: A Selected Bibliography A Gender Perspective:
New Elizabeth LeBlanc, The Metaphorical Lesbian: Edna Pontellier in The Awakening

New Historicism and The Awakening
What Is New Historicism?
New Historicism: A Selected Bibliography A New Historicist Perspective:
Margit Stange, Personal Property: Exchange Value and the Female Self in The Awakening

Deconstruction and The Awakening
What Is Deconstruction?
Deconstruction: A Selected Bibliography A Deconstructionist Perspective:
Patricia S. Yaeger, "A Language Which Nobody Understood": Emancipatory Strategies in The Awakening

Reader-Response and The Awakening
What Is Reader-Response Criticism?
Reader-Response Criticism: A Selected Bibliography A Reader-Response Perspective:
Paula A. Treichler, The Construction of Ambiguity in The Awakening: A Linguistic Analysis

New Combining Critical Perspectives:
Cynthia Griffin Wolff, Un-utterable Longing: The Discourse of Feminine Sexuality in Kate Chopin's The Awakening

Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms
About the Contributors

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First Chapter

Chapter 1

A green and yellow parrot, which hung in a cage outside the door, kept repeating over and over:

"Allez vous-en! Allez vous-en! Sapristi! That's all right!"

He could speak a little Spanish, and also a language which nobody understood, unless it was the mockingbird that hung on the other side of the door, whistling his fluty notes out upon the breeze with maddening persistence.

Mr. Pontellier, unable to read his newspaper with any degree of comfort, arose with an expression and an exclamation of disgust. He walked down the gallery and across the narrow "bridges" which connected the Lebrun cottages one with the other. He had been seated before the door of the main house. The parrot and the mockingbird were the property of Madame Lebrun, and they had the right to make all the noise they wished. Mr. Pontellier had the privilege of quitting their society when they ceased to be entertaining.

He stopped before the door of his own cottage, which was the fourth one from the main building and next to the last. Seating himself in a wicker rocker which was there, he once more applied himself to the task of reading the newspaper. The day was Sunday, the paper was a day old. The Sunday papers had not yet reached Grand Isle. He was already acquainted with the market reports, and he glanced restlessly over the editorials and bits of news which he had not had time to read before quitting New Orleans the day before.

Mr. Pontellier wore eye-glasses. He was a man of forty, of medium height and rather slender build; he stooped a little. His hair was brown and straight, parted on one side. His beard was neatly and closely trimmed.

Once in a while he withdrew his gorch, facing each other, each leaning against a supporting post.

"What folly! to bathe at such an hour in such heat!" exclaimed Mr. Pontellier. He himself had taken a plunge at daylight. That was why the morning seemed long to him.

"You are burnt beyond recognition," he added, looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage. She held up her hands, strong, shapely hands, and surveyed them critically, drawing up her lawn' sleeves above the wrists. Looking at them reminded her of her rings, which she had given to her husband before leaving for the beach. She silently reached out to him, and he, understanding, took the rings from his vest pocket and dropped them into her open palm. She slipped them upon her fingers; then clasping her knees, she looked across at Robert and began to laugh. The rings sparkled upon her fingers. He sent back an answering smile.

"What is it?" asked Pontellier, looking lazily and amused from one to the other. It was some utter nonsense; some adventure out there in the water, and they both tried to relate it at once. It did not seem half so amusing when told. They realized this, and so did Mr. Pontellier. He yawned and stretched himself. Then he got up, saying he had half a mind to go over to Klein's hotel and play a game of billiards.

"Come go along, Lebrun," he proposed to Robert. But Robert admitted quite frankly that he preferred to stay where he was and talk to Mrs. Pontellier.

"Well, send him about his business when he bores you, Edna," instructed her husband as he prepared to leave.

"Here, take the umbrella," she exclaimed, holding it out to him. He accepted the sunshade, and lifting it over his head de scended the steps and walked away.

"Coming back to dinner?" his wife called after him. He halted a moment and shrugged his shoulders. He felt in his vest pocket; there was a ten-dollar bill there. He did not know; perhaps he would return for the early dinner and perhaps he would not. It all depended upon the company which he found over at Klein's and the size of "the game." He did not say this, but she understood it, and laughed, nodding good-by to him.

Both children wanted to follow their father when they saw him starting out. He kissed them and promised to bring them back bonbons and peanuts.

Copyright © 1998 by Simon & Schuster

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 146 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(52)

4 Star

(38)

3 Star

(26)

2 Star

(15)

1 Star

(15)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 146 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2011

    Worst book ever!

    This book was a waste of my money. The book had too many languages in it. The story line made absolutely no sense. The book was very slow from beginning to end. Im gonna warn you right now.....this book will waste your time and money.

    9 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2011

    Awful in every aspect of the word.

    To anyone hoping for any sort of entertainment from this story, you will be sorely disappointed. The characters are bland and flat, the plot holds no substance and the main conflict delivers neither a good payoff nor a satisfying resolution. The book's main character is meant to give off an air of independence and strength. She is meant to represent changing times and the will of women everywhere. Instead she comes off as a whiney brat with not a care for anyone but herself. Not only does she neglect her husband, but also the children that she brought into thos world. She moans and groans about the lack of attention given to her, all while completely staying in the background, running about with other men. No character in this novel is likable, and the ones who you manage not to hate all end up being boringand underused. Do not read this book.

    8 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2012

    A

    Boringggg !!!!

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2011

    boring

    A little too much description for every movement & thought. Very slow & boring!

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2012

    White whine

    This book is annoyingly boring and provided insight into the dull minds of 17th century women.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2010

    good book- lousy scan!

    This is one of the google scanned books- the story is good but THE SCAN IS AWFUL -SPEND A BUCK & GET A GOOD COPY or your going to get alot of googly fonts & what looks almost like wingding font

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2005

    Best short stories I have ever read

    I read Kate Chopin's The Awakening for a Lit course.I have read many books.Chopin's stories stay in my mind.I remember her characters as REAL people.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2012

    Shitty ass book

    The end

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2012

    You don't have to like the characters to like the book

    It was difficult for me to like, sympathize or empathize with any of the main characters in this book. Nevertheless, this is an interesting character profile of a member of the "me generation" born 100 years too early, set deep within creole New Orleans society. An intellectually satisfying read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2012

    Intelligently written and soul provocing Ingtelligently written and soul stiring

    Written with provocative undertone, chopin would have a grateful appause in the 21st century

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 1, 2011

    great book

    I love this book! I have it in 3 different forms and this particular one has a few small glitches but nothing major! cant beat the price:0

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 11, 2011

    Awakening of the Mind

    "I would give up the unessential; I would give up my money, I would give up my life for my children; but I wouldn't give myself." THE AWAKENING written by Kate Chopin portraits a world back in the late 1800s. A fascinating story of the life of a young woman, who is also a wife and a mother, shows challenges against the values of the world during that particular time period. Kate Chopin describes a world that she has been dreaming of, that she believes in women can say something rather than being controlled by men. The protagonist went against the important moral issue that was highly valued back in those days. The author applied adultery issues into the life of the main character to describe her journey towards freedom and independence. The story itself is a well-written piece, which made it easier for readers to take a quick glance into a world that has been nearly hundred years ago. Even though the novel is one of the most famous classic pieces, the clear usage of language and style of the author helped the readers in the process of understanding the conflicts. Kate Chopin, an explorer who challenged the idea of sexuality in American literature back in 1800s will guide readers to awaken their minds of ideas of individuality and liberty, which are concepts that we can observe in today's world thankful to the pioneer authors.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Loyalty in The Awakening and The Crucible by S.Weismann

    Throughout the novels I read, The Crucible and The Awakening I believe that loyalty is the dominant theme of both books.
    Throughout The Awakening, Edna Pontellier is the main character and feels the need to be an independent woman and not have the feeling of being owned. She goes through an "awakening" or other people would call it "re-birth". She does not appreciate anything that her husband buys her or the things he does for her, instead she chooses to be disloyal to Leonce. She spends a lot of time with Robert, a friend who is also Grand Isle at the time. She is not only untrue to her husband with Robert, but also with Alcee. Her disloyalty brings death upon her; she commits suicide in the sea. If she was loyal to her husband like her close friend Adele, she might still be alive. She chose to be selfish and be independent like she wanted, not thinking what her actions and death would do to her husband and children. Adele is the perfect example of how a woman should act. She worships her husband and is extremely loyal to him. She centers her life around her family, always trying to do the right thing.
    While reading The Crucible, I found that loyalty is the most dominant theme. John Procter starts out by not being loyal and faithful to his wife by having an affair with Abigail, their servant. Later in the play he is in court and his wife denies that he had an affair, even though she knows they did. She was being loyal when in reality John wanted her to confess to save John. Also the girls who were "dancing" in the woods were loyal to each other and not telling anyone what they were really doing. Not until the end of the play did Mary break off and become disloyal to her friends, trying to save herself. Not only in the court was Elizabeth being loyal, she also was loyal to him in the past when she found out about the affair. She stuck by his side when she knew about the affair and only fired Abigail.
    There are many themes in every piece of writing that one would read. Choosing dominant themes can be difficult but I feel that Loyalty is one of the leading themes in the two books I read. Being loyal is a trait that is very important to anyone in life. It can only do one good and will not cause harm unless one is disloyal.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2014

    OutCast

    Smart kid.))) She stormed into the old Bloodclan camp, back when it had been in the forest. She rushed to a hollowed log, bloodstained at the bottom. Where she had ki<_>lled her sister. She layed down, face in her paws, and began to cry.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2013

    Slowest 100 page book but great ending

    The book was slow, i mean- really slow. It took longer to read those 100 or so pages than almost any book I've read but the climactic conclusion did improve my overall outlook on that wasted time spent dragging through this.

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  • Posted June 2, 2013

    A Classic worth reading

    Kate Chopin was featured in the St. Louis history museum in Forest Park (Free admission -- A wonderful city to visit!) so I decided to read one of her novels. A daring subject and approach for a female writer of her time. Typically existential for the period. A good book for understanding southern culture or women's issues in the 1800's. Suitable for reading for High School students.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 17, 2013

    Boring

    I tried very hard to read this book, but it was boring and I felt like maybe if I tried reading it another day I might have missed something.......not the case. It drones on and on with a plethora of characters who are also boring. I never read padt the fourth chapter because it was pointless drivel that went on and on about nothing and went nowhere. This author should have taken up another calling. Dont waste your time.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2013

    Ju

    Rixbmyibynx jxhcbnc

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  • Posted February 24, 2013

    An Interesting Look at Early Feminism

    I liked this book. All the characters are flawed, but good and sympathetic nonetheless. Though Edna is definitely not one of the nobler protagonists, the reader does sympathize with her plight to find her own identity in a world where she has been defined by her relation to others (mother, daughter, etc.). Not much happens in the book, but I found each character interesting enough to care about them to the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    No name

    Reading it now. Worst read. I dont think i can bring myself to finish it

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 146 Customer Reviews

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