Kate Chopin and the Awakening

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What features make The Awakening a "local color" story?
The amount of detail that is spent on the area and is significant. Every time a character that is colored is introduced, limited time is spent describing the character. Local color is what defines an area, town or people. "The Awakening" touches deeply on all of the local color of the area it is describing.

What customs and beliefs of Edna Pontellier's society are significant in relation to her psychological development? To be a good person in Edna’s society meant being a mother figure who completely surrenders her sense of self in favor of her husband and children. Edna is trying to become a human being the best way she knows how. Edna refuses to take the mother road. Instead, she seeks her humanity

What attitudes and tendencies in the Creole characters does Edna have trouble adjusting to? Creole society is very open when it comes to sexuality, and Edna has trouble with that. She was not brought up in the Creole society, so she has trouble accepting it. Examples can be seen when they pass around the novel that has explicit sexual content while on vaction. It can also be seen in Robert's behavior. He is very openly flirtatious with Edna, and he has the repuation of being a flirt in the past with other women.

Why did Edna marry Leonce? Is he the model husband?
She married him because she didn't want her father to choose her husband. She wanted the freedom of being able to choose herself. "Was he the best choice?" Probably not for Edna but it was who she chose.

What incidents in the novel reveal that he may not be a good husband for Edna? As a traditional Creole gentleman of the times, Leonce believes it is his duty to provide financially for the family and it is Edna's duty to be devoted to him, their two children, and their home. When Edna suggests she is not interested in these domestic duties, Leonce is incapable of comprehending what she means. In his mind, this line of thinking is utterly ridiculous. Against that backdrop, Leonce's inability to communicate effectively with his wife expands the problem. When Edna shares her feelings with Leonce, he dismisses them. When her behavior contradicts his expectations, he dismisses them. By dismissing Edna and her concerns and never communicating with her about them, Leonce severs any ties that exist between the two.

How do Mlle. Reisz and Mme. Ratignolle function in relation to Edna and the novel's view of women as mothers and artists? Mme. Ratignolle shows the society's view of women as mothers. Her advice to Edna is to "remember the children." Ratignolle is loving and nurturing, but devoid of independence or personality. Mlle. Reisz, though, is living her life as she desires, not caring what society thinks of her. She is able to be extravagant and lavish, fully embracing her artistic capabilities because she does not have other obligations. She denies society's structure, and encourages Edna to do the same. This free lifestyle is what Edna comes to desire and seek for herself.

What kind of mother is Edna? What kind of artist is she?
Painting evokes the passion that Edna lacks in her life. There are suggestions that Edna's art is somehow flawed. Madame Reisz cautions Edna about what it takes to be an artist, the "courageous soul" and the "stronged wings." Edna also loves her children, however she would not give herself to her children but rather sacriface herself for them. She realizes that she has lives in a society filled with limitations, therefore sees her only way out by freeing herself permanently from society.

How are the background characters such as the young lovers and the lady in black at the shore, significant in Edna's story? These minor characters all serve to contrast with Edna and her struggles with her own identity and place in society. The young lovers are a stark contrast to the marriage of Edna and Leonce, at least as Edna perceives her marriage. The young...
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