The Awakening by Kate Chopin

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The Awakening by Kate Chopin exemplifies how characters get caught between colliding cultures that deal with ethnic and institutional issues. The protagonist Edna Pontellier deals with cultural collisions, due to their role in the awakening of her desires. This cultural collision happens between the Creole women from New Orleans and Edna’s own accustoms, this collision causes Edna to have an epiphany. Edna realizes how different she is from the Creole women and begins to question where she really fits in society. She tries to fit the standards but fails, this allows Edna to understand that she is an individual and allows her to discover herself by creating an entire set of standards to hold herself to. These new standards lead Edna to isolation because she is in a way no longer part of society.

An example of collision of institutions is found in Grand Isle. At the sight of all “The mother-women [who prevailed] that summer at Grand Isle” (Chopin 14), Edna begins to question her role as a mother. Especially when Adèle Ratignolle is put as an exemplar. Ratignolle is described to be “delicious in the rôle, [and the] embodiment of every womanly grace and charm”(Chopin 15) this image sets Ratignolle to be the model of Grand Isle’s institutional standards to what a mother women should be. Contrasting Edna to Mrs. Ratignolle inclines Mr. Pontellier to evaluate Edna’s “duty toward their children”. Mr. Pontellier’s view of Edna allows Edna to realize that she does not enjoy being her husband’s property. Edna does not wish to yield to Mr. Pontellier’s requests and instead she “violently [rejects] society’s vision of womanhood…”(Jarlath Killeen). According to Jarlath Killen Edna also demonstrates traits of Darwinism, which means that Edna’s awakening of individual desires are a start for women to become mentally fit and be able to become part of man and not just possessions that dedicate life to their children and husband. Unfortunately the Darwinism spirit leads to...
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