Free Awakening Essays: A Reader Response

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A Reader Response to The Awakening I had not read The Awakening before, and these notes are on a real “first reading” , and as a result deal mostly with my emotional response and thoughts on the style and general content of the story, I enjoyed the language and the “texture” of the writing. The subtle characterizations were done well, although the introduction of the characters seemed a bit unclear at times. The languid pace of the novel seem to fit the story and location of the action on one level, but seemed at odds with the violent, brash , turbulent nature of the emotional heart of the novel, Edna’s trying to connect to her true self. I often found myself wanting things to move on. At times the writing reminded me of Hemingway(of all people) in its description of eating and drinking , small actions that tell a lot about a character, and frequent use of French or Spanish phrases within the text: “Robert rolled a cigarette. He smoked cigarettes because he could not afford cigars,...” (44) “She was hungry again, for the Highcamp dinner, though of excellent quality, had lacked abundance. She rummaged in the larder and brought forth a slice of “Gruyere” and some crackers. She opened a bottle of beer...” (116) “Well, good-by, a jeudi,”...(108) “The sun was low in the west and the breeze was soft and warm.”(53) But unlike Hemingway, I often got the feeling that Chopin did not trust either her writing and the images and metaphors she used, or the reader to understand her more subtle sections. She seemed to feel often that she had to go back and tell the reader what a certain image or action “really” meant , as if we wouldn’t understand. It was difficult, especially at first, to identify with Edna. I thought at first that this woman just had too much time to think and little else to do with her life,(Which ultimately might be Chopin’s point). A woman with so little to really “worry about”, in the context that most of us have daily problems, mostly of a material kind, to take up our thoughts. Also. her reaction to her children,(as well as her husbands), made me feel for them.(This was the first thought that came into my mind when Edna walked into the ocean. Is finding freedom for our soul synonymous with freedom from our responsibilities?
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