Explication of Ch. 17 of the Awakening

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The Pigeon House
In chapter XXXII of the novel The Awakening, Kate Chopin uses selection of detail, careful diction, and meticulous symbolism to depict the magnitude of Edna Pontellier's search for independence and struggle against the role appointed to her by Creole society. By focusing those devices on Edna's search for the ideal home, she displays the impact of descending the social hierarchy, but escalating a spiritual ladder. By liberating herself from material restraints, Edna is able to see and understand things with her own eyes, and shows the flourishing of women, their fight against social coercion and the responsibilities they are forced to accept in order to be decent and fit.

The language that Chopin employs shows the depth of Edna's growth. Edna realizes that independent ideas cannot always translate into a simultaneously self-sufficient and socially acceptable existence. However, she knows that to act on this independent streak, she has to make life-altering decisions such as abandoning her traditional Creole residence. Chopin writes, "There was a feeling of descending in the social scale, with the corresponding sense of having risen in the spiritual.., she began to look with her own eyes... no longer was she content to feed upon opinion" (Chopin, 94). The pigeon house provides a way for Edna to escape from the society that she hates. She has the freedom to make the decisions in her life now; and she decides that she is going to live life by her own rules, not the rules that society has laid out for her. When she is within her home, she is free from the pressures of being the "mother woman" which society forces her to be. The pigeon house nourishes this newfound freedom, allowing it to gain strength.

To further characterize Edna's journey against the odds of society, Chopin includes meaningful plot-developing details. Through the freedom from her appointed duties in a binding household, Edna begins to nurture wise choices and sensible...
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