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.
The Awakening is one of the earliest examples of feminism in literature, and the book's criticism of acceptable female social roles and emphasis on women's sexuality caused it to be received with a mixture of praise and criticism. Set in Louisiana, The Awakening is also an early example of Southern literature, a category which would later be made popular by authors like William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams.
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Kate Chopin was born in St. Louis, Missouri,In 1851. She began writing shortly after herHusband's death and, from 1889 until her ownDeath, her stories and other miscellaneousWritings appeared in Vogue, Youth's companion,Atlantic Monthly, Century, Saturday EveningPost, and other publications. In addition to The Awakening, Mrs. Chopin published another novel, At Fault, and two collections of short stories and sketches, Bayou Folk and A Night at Acadie. The publication of The Awakening in 1899 occasioned shocked and angry response from reviewers all over the country. The book was taken off the shelves of the St. Louis mercantile library and its author was barred from the fine arts club. Kate Chopin died in 1904.