Edna Pontellier is a wife, a mother, and a member of the Presbyterian Church, but has never felt comfortable being defined by any of these roles. Edna yearns for freedom, independence, and self-fulfillment-all of which seem antithetical to the life she has fallen into. When she departs to Grand Isle with her husband and children for a vacation, Edna's quiet dissatisfaction becomes more problematic, as she gets a glimpse of what life free from obligation and social constraints could be like.
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