Discuss what we learn about the main character´s state of mind in
this brief paragraph in the last chapter of Chopin´s `The Awakening´:
`Despondency had come… when she walked down to the beach´. What are
her feelings about Robert, her husband, her children, etc…at this point?
Have they changed substancially along the novel? Is there any
foreshadowing in the passage of how the book is going to close? Compare
briefly this ending to the one in Hurston´s `Their Eyes Were Watching
All through the novel we can see how Edna feels depressed because
she is supposed to take care of her children and her husband considers that
she does not do it in the right way. I wonder how can her husband think
that she can be a good mother if he himself sees her as a child. This can be
one of the reasons why Edna does not feel capable of taking
care of her children. All her life she has been told that she has to be an
appendix for her husband and a good mother, but as her husband treats her
as a child, she is not prepared to take care of their children . Edna does not
like the role of “mother-woman” that she is supposed to perform: `In short,
Mrs. Pontellier was not a mother-woman.´ She has the feeling that her
children are always on her back, acting as an extra weight that make her
life more difficult.
Her lack of interest for her children is accentuated when she
compares herself to Madame Ratignolle who is the perfect wife and
mother. Edna does not want to be defined by her children, she does not
want to sacrifice her whole existence because of them. This refusal to
sacrifice will be present from the beginning of the novel but will grow
stronger and in the end she will see her children as enemies that keep her in
slavery: `The children appeared before her like antagonists who had
overcome her; who had overpowered and sought to drag her into the soul´s
slavery for the rest of her days. But she knew a way to elude them´.
She feels that her children are the reason why she looses her
individuality. That is why she says: `I would give up the unessential[ … ]
but I wouldn´t give myself.´ She wants to be alone and this is not possible
when you have all the responsibilities of a family.
For Edna domestic life is a kind of death in life so she cuts the ties
that she has with the world until she is completely on her own. This she
will achieve when she finally commits suicide.
By the end of the novel the only person that she feels close to is
Robert but she is conscious that even Robert will leave her one day. She
knows that Robert is also too conventional and that he does not understand
her. Robert cannot understand why Edna wants to break with the
established roles of society. Even though he is very different from Léonce,
Edna´s husband, he does not understand Edna either. Robert is the only
person Edna will think positively about when she is about to enter the
ocean for the last time but, this thought does not stop her from commiting
suicide. I think that nothing could had helped her from doing it. We can say
that Edna has finally achieved what she wanted. Now she feels almost
completely alone and independent.
Léonces´s pretension to keep Edna under her thumb and treat her
like a child contributes to set her further and further from him. He only
sees her as one of his possessions and all the presents that he gives her
only have one reason: to make more attractive his possession.
When Edna is depressed he does not show concern for her reasons
but for the way it will affect the house and the maintenance of the role that
is socially acceptable for a family. Even when Edna tells him that she is
leaving home, he does not think of why she wants to do such a thing, he
only thinks that she is doing the unacceptable for society and will not
I do not think that Edna´s feelings towards Robert, Léonce or her
children have changed substantially along the novel. I reckon that she has
achieved a better comprehension of her own feelings. At the beginning
those feelings were already there but she did not know how to name them.
It is only after this process of self-discovery she goes through that she can
be completely true to herself.
I am not sure whether this passage introduces the idea that she will
commit suicide because I cannot remember what did I think when I read it
for the first time. Now, after having read it several times I can say that
maybe it does. Above all because of the sentence: `But she knew a way to
elude them´ We can think that the way to elude them is to commit suicide.
The ending of `The Awakening´is completely different from the
ending in `Their Eyes Were Watching God´. Edna is not understood by
anybody in the society in which she lives and she takes the resolution of
committing suicide to escape from it. On the other hand, we have Janie,
who has a very hard life, very much harder than Edna´s in fact, and that
at the end is forgiven and understood by the people surrounding her. At
the end Janie can live in peace and enjoy her life after so many sorrows.
In both novels we see the protagonist trying to go over the proofs
that they find in their way. They do it in very different ways and so the
endings are very different. I think that Janie is more successful than Edna
in finding what she is looking for but Edna does it in her own way too.
|Enviado por:||Nagore Etxebarria|