Study Guide – The Awakening
chamomile — a plant
gaunt — thin, bony
lugger — a small boat with a sail
quadroon — a person who has one African-American grandparent 1. Explain how the parrot and the mockingbird are used to introduce this chapter. 2. Describe Léonce Pontellier.
3. What does the following quotation tell you about Léonce’s attitude toward his wife? He looked “at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage.” (Pg. 12)
4. Who is Robert Lebrun?
5. Discuss the use of the following sounds in Chapter I: the other birds, the piano, Madame Lebrun, the children, Edna, and Robert.
6. How do these sounds indicate something about the setting of the novel? 7. What indications are there that the Pontellier marriage is strained?
countenance — the look on a person’s face
incessantly — never stopping
infusion — the act of putting or mixing one thing into another languor — listlessness, a lack of vitality
1. Describe Edna Pontellier.
2. What kind of person is Robert Lebrun?
3. What shift in point of view is evident in Chapter Two?
4. What do you learn about Robert and Edna from their conversation at the end of this chapter?
composure — the state of being calm
dispelling — causing to vanish
foregoing — that which came before
habitual — much seen or done, usual
impaired — damaged
imploring — begging
indiscriminately — done haphazardly
lamenting — regretting, feeling deep sorrow
luscious — delicious, sweet
monotonous — tiresome; unvarying
mournful — sad
oppression — burden, a feeling of being weighed down
toothsome — pleasing to the taste
upbraiding — scolding
1. How does Léonce’s behavior when he returns from the Klein Hotel reveal his attitude toward his wife?
2. What shows the reader more signs of the marital conflict between the Pontelliers? 3. Discuss how sounds are used as a backdrop to the scene of disagreement between Léonce and Edna. How is the sea used as a symbol?
4. How does the gift Edna receives from her husband symbolize her marriage and most marriages of this time?
amicable — friendly
ample — more than enough
anticipating — expecting
atonement — to right a wrong, to make amends
bodice — a vest
Creole — a person descended from the original French settlers of Louisiana droll — oddly amusing
efface — to make unimportant, to wipe out
embodiment — the perfect example
esteemed — to have great regard for
impervious — incapable of being hurt
insidious — more dangerous
iota — a very small amount
subsequent — that which follows
1. Describe the unusual nature of the relationship between Edna and her children. 2. What satiric comment does the narrator make concerning “mother-woman”? Cite specific words that reveal the satiric nature of these comments. 3. Who is Adéle Ratignolle, and how is she the embodiment of the “mother-woman”? 4. How does the fact that Edna is not a Creole affect her relationship with others on Grand Isle?
5. Support the following statement as a possible theme in the novel: there is danger in novels that can confuse susceptible women.
aptitude — talent
congenial — agreeable; sharing common tastes and interests contemptuous — scornful
detain — keep from leaving
earnest — genuine
entreaty — request
imperative — powerful; important
inconsolable — unable to be calmed
naivete — extreme innocence, foolish simplicity
prostrating — knelling
remonstrate — to make objections
sensuous — that which stimulates the senses
sonorous — full, deep, rich sound
vouchsafe — bestow, give, grant
1. During the Middle Ages, courtly love was embodied in the behavior of a knight toward the fine lady he loved. He would prostrate himself before her, idealize her, carry her favor into battle, but never demonstrate physical love for her. How does Robert’s behavior toward Edna fit this...
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