The Awakening Novel Quotes The Awakening by Kate Chopin, is a story of self-discovery, the tale of a woman who breaks free from the norm and takes a dip in the untested waters of hush-hush during the nineteenth century. Edna Pontellier is a Creole woman living in New Orleans during the late 1800’s. Although she is married, she begins an intimate courtship with a man named Robert Lebrun. What seems harmless at first quickly accelerates into a journey or freedom and self-discovery for Edna. The days they spend bathing in the sea and lounging in the sand cause the woman to reminisce and pine for the days of her youth.Order now
She lets her pent up independence tumble out from the hidden shelves of her being, waves of freedom tumbling over her anxious body. Throughout the plot of the book, Edna deals with the growing social eye cast upon her and with the frequent and final departure of her lover – Robert. With this, Edna throws her broken-hearted body into the ocean, leaving her husband and children in a cowardly way out. Quote #1: “The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clearing, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in the abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation.
The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace. ” (pg. 17) In the book, Edna faces three ‘awakenings’. All of which begin, and the last ends, with the sea. The sea seems to ‘baptize’ her first awakening, in which she leaves her husband and children. The second heightens her awareness as she swims and lounges on the beach with Robert during their affair. The last awakening is when she realizes she cannot hold onto her desires, and ends her life by the sea. As a reader, this passage made me alert to the upcoming events, as well as the events that had already passed.
It shed light on the series of three, which all tied back to the ocean. These events also made me draw similar comparisons to the scaffold scenes in The Scarlett Letter. Like that book, Edna is involved in adultery. In a similar way, Dimmesdale kills himself like Edna due to guilt. Edna realizes that she has failed as a ‘mother’ and is heartbroken at the letter Robert has left for her when she returns back to New Orleans. Quote #2: “Her marriage to Leonce Pontellier was purely an accident, in this respect resembling many other marriages which masquerade as the decrees of Fate.
It was in the midst of her secret great passion that she met him. He fell in love, as men are in the habit of doing, and pressed his suit with an earnestness and ardor which left nothing to be desired. ” (pg. 23-24) This quote is a summary of Leonce and Edna’s relationship. She doesn’t really love him, nor does she really believe that she ever did. She loves him for the reason that he is the father of her children, but not for much else. Later in the book, it even seems believable that she doesn’t care for her children either.
However, it could be that she left her children to spare them from the hurt she would bring if she were to stay and be their ‘mother’. As a reader, this quote helped shed light on the relationship – or rather, lack of – between Edna and her husband. It makes it understandable for her to have an affair, but then again I found this shocking because she has children. Even if she wasn’t in love with her husband, and divorce was definitely not an option during the 1800’s – she should have stayed for her children. In the end, love for Robert or for her children, wasn’t even enough to keep her from diving into the ocean.
Quote #3: “But that night she was like the little tottering, stumbling, clutching child, who all of a sudden realizes its power and walks for the first time alone, boldly and with over confidence. She could have shouted with joy” (23). Although this quote comes at the beginning of the novel, it could have floated throughout the book. It describes the night Edna left her family, but it could also describe the first time her and Robert were together, or the time that under her own will falls into the ocean. She is overcome with happiness each time her desires are met, and each time she discovers a new ounce of freedom.
This quote reminds me of myself at times. When happy things develop, I am filled with the same type of childlike joy. Sure, I am definitely not leaving a husband for another man or abandoning my children, but my endorphins are at the same level as hers. I know Edna is in pursuit of happiness, way before that time, but it still shocks me that she could just up and leave her children. Quote #4: “She cast the unpleasant, pricking garments from her, and for the first time in her life, she stood naked in the open air, at the mercy of the sun, the breeze that beat upon her, and the waves that invited her” (108).
Along with the ocean, clothing is a huge symbol in this book. At the beginning of the novel, Edna is fully dressed. With each piece of cloth that she sheds, it symbolizes societal rules. When she finally chooses to end her life, she is completely naked – showing the reader that she is finally free of the weight bearing down on her, that the glare of that societal eye has finally shut for good. It took me awhile to understand this piece of symbolism, and it was a bit hidden compared to the symbols of dreaming/sleeping, the ocean, or her challenge of learning to swim. The quote really gets across the feeling of freedom.
After all, we all know what it’s like to get home after a long day and slip into something a lot more comfortable. It seems that committing suicide finally put Edna mind to rest. Quote #5: “The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth” (82). Birds are another image of symbolism in the book. They symbolize Edna’s communications, like the Mockingbird and the Parrot. The birds in the cages symbolize the figurative caging of women during this time period.
Along with cages and the calls of birds, perhaps flight is the most symbolic. This outlines her flight from her family, along with flight from her life when she commits suicide. This symbol was easy to pick out, after all birds are perfect to describe the societal conditions of women during the late 1800’s. Flight, caging, and song were perfect for Chopin to symbolize freedom, entrapment, and communication between the sexes in her book. This quote creates a sense of imagery, especially with the second part ‘the weaklings bruises, exhausted, fluttering back to earth’ gives the reader a vivid image of the hurt women were caused.
Quote #6: “The past was nothing to her; offered no lesson which she was willing to heed. The future was a mystery which she never attempted to penetrate. The present alone was significant. ”(Chapter XV) This goes to show how Edna only lives in the present. It’s almost like she has no desire to imagine the future, or even think about it. Perhaps this is why she is so unhappy. Leaving her family, she has little insight on the domino effect it would cause. She never thought to think about Robert leaving, considering he wasn’t her husband, or that New Orleans would change when she returned.
In the end, this led to her demise. Time is a symbol in this book, and this quote just shows. With each time that Edna doesn’t acknowledge, things get gradually worse. I think about this quote whenever I don’t want to think about the future – shedding light on the reality that we should think about all three levels of time: the past, the present, and the future. Quote #7: “The years that are gone seem like dreams-if one might go on sleeping and dreaming—but to wake up and find—oh! Well! Perhaps it is better to wake up after all. Even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life” (50).
Each time Edna sleeps, a major even happens. Whether it be a dream with a huge dinner and old friends, or a figurative ‘sleep’ in which a great amount of time passes her by (like when she leaves New Orleans), it’s not always good. In my opinion, this time lapse in which she sleeps is also figurative. It counts for the events that she missed with her children and marriage, by leaving them for a man who eventually leaves her, and by committing suicide. This proves that she is only selfish, and constantly lives in the moment. Quote #8: “She looked into the distance, and the old terror flamed up for an instant, then sank again.
Edna heard her father’s voice and her sister Margaret’s. She heard the barking of an old dog that was chained to the sycamore tree. The spurs of the cavalry officer clanged as he walked across the porch. There was the hum of bees, and the musky odor of pinks filled the air” (153). This goes to symbolize the normalcy of Edna’s life when she returns to New Orleans. It was like Robert had never existed. It’s as if the world didn’t mourn for her, which might have driven her to plunge into the ocean. I think Edna realized that the world didn’t revolve around her and her affair, that it would keep spinning no matter what.
I think this goes to say that a little Naturalism is present in the book. After all, the earth never stops spinning for anyone – including Edna. It only seems fair after all the pain she caused, only for her to gain a self-awakening and a sexual awakening with a man she hardly knew. It’s also quite a hand dealt in the world of fate, that Robert ends up leaving. Quote #9: “She put her hand up to his face and pressed his cheek against her own. The action was full of love and tenderness. He sought her lips again. Then he drew her down upon the sofa beside him and held her hand in both of his” (141).
This quote summarizes Robert and Edna’s love for each other. It seems like together, they are invincible and they both could care less about the world around them. It may be the charm of sea and the season of summer that intensify their love for one another, and cause a great comfort between each other. Although I believe what Edna did was wrong, both her adultery and her suicide, this quote is beautiful. I think it’s a chance of a lifetime to find a love like she and Robert have. Although she is stricken with an unfathomable sadness towards the end of the book, this quote gleams with the happiness both of them probably felt in the moment.
Quote of the Book: “She was seeking herself and finding herself in just such sweet, half-darkness which met her moods. But the voices were not soothing that came to her from the darkness and the sky above and the stars. They jeered and sounded mournful notes without promise, devoid even of hope. ” (Chapter 17, pg. 69) This quote depicts the ups and downs of the whole book. Although Edna is filled with joy when she leaves her family and elopes to a home with Robert along the beach, when all her love is devoid of her body she turns to suicide to soothe the growing blackness within her broken heart.
This quote also adds a beauty to the story, which is true. In a way, all of Edna’s mistakes and travesties create a shadow of a different side of America during the nineteenth century – a view of a woman. Reflective Letter: Although I believe that Edna’s decisions were poor, I will never forget this story. It really causes me to grateful when it comes to this time period, and I know that I will never have to feel trapped within a relationship like Mrs. Pontellier. I know then divorce was not an option, and I don’t think that if I was married I would automatically choose divorce.
I believe that there’s always some kind of way to make it work. Although I struggled a bit with understanding her choices, I enjoyed the love Edna and Robert created. It was a love without limits, and perhaps that was the flourish of a sin. This is a great book for anyone that has ever felt trapped, or caged in a world where they don’t belong. Even after everything, Edna still felt crowded by her sadness – and threw herself into the ocean. This book is packed full of symbolism and I really enjoyed that. Overall, this is definitely a ‘girl’s’ book, and I would definitely suggest it for the classes next year.