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The Awakening and Selected Stories

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Length: 362 pages5 hours

Summary

“The Awakening” is the story of Edna Pontellier, an attractive young wife and the mother of two sons living in the Creole south in the late 19th century. Edna feels herself trapped in a marriage where she is unable to express her passionate sensuality and as a result explores a spiritual and sexual awakening through an affair with a younger man during one summer while her husband is away. Liberated by this experience she sends her children away and is determined to live a more independent and self-determined life. This behavior would lead to her downfall as it was not seen favorably by the members of her conservative 19th century southern community. “The Awakening” is a landmark modernist work which illustrates the confines of late 19th century America for women and the beginning of an era of changing social attitudes towards their role in society. The liberal portrayal of Edna in “The Awakening” was meet with great criticism when it was first published and essentially ended Chopin’s literary career. The reaction to its publication is indicative of the social attitude towards increasing freedom for women during this era. At the same time the novel was a harbinger of the greater independence that was soon to come for women in America. This edition also contains a collection of seventeen of Chopin’s most popular short stories.

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