The Awakening is made a local color story by the detailed descriptions in the dialogue and the depiction of the town with the imagery that is used. Also, in that time period, women did not have a very large role in society so speaking up did not have a large impact. 2. What customs and beliefs of Edna Pontellier’s society are significant in relation to her psychological development? In New Orleans, women are supposed to be inferior to the men and do nothing but serve and cater to their husbands and children. Edna has a mind of her own, however, and is not happy in the life that she is living. 3. What attitudes and tendencies in the Creole characters does Edna have trouble adjusting to?
She has trouble adjusting to the attitudes of other women that their husband and children come before them. She doesn’t like seeing women being inferior to men. 4. Why did Edna marry Leonce? Is he the model husband? Yes, he is the model husband. She married him to get under her father and sisters skin and also because he loved her and seemed to be the only one to paid much attention to her. 5. What incidents in the novel reveal that he may not be a good husband for Edna? He believes in the women keeping it traditional with the inferior role in society and he refuses to communicate with her feelings. 6. How do Mlle. Reisz and Mme. Ratignolle function in relation to Edna and the novel’s view of women as mothers and artists?
7. What kind of mother is Edna? What kind of artist is she? 8. How are the background characters such as the young lovers and the lady in black at the shore, significant in Edna’s story? 9. In detail, explain how the flashbacks to Edna’s past function. How does her father compare to the other men in her life? 10. How does the view of romantic love develop in the course of the novel? What is the doctor’s view of marriage and childbearing? 11. Can you think of an emotional attachment and/or a romantic obsession you have studied in a previous work? How does that incident or character compare with Edna’s emotional and romantic relationships? 12. What are the main images and symbols in the novel? 13. Why does Edna get involved with Alcee Arobin?
14. Why do you suppose critics were outraged at this novel in 1899, saying it committed “unutterable crimes against polite society” and should be labeled “poison” to protect “moral babes”? 15. What is your reaction to the end of the novel? Do you agree or disagree with the reasons for Edna’s final action?
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