The Lady in Black and the Lovers in The Awakening

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The Lady in Black and the Lovers in The Awakening Kate Chopin's The Awakening is a terrific read and I am hardly able to put it down! I am up to chapter XV and many of the characters are developing in very interesting ways. Edna is unfulfilled as a wife and mother even though she and her husband are financially well off. Her husband, Leonce Pontellier, is a good husband and father but he has only been paying attention to his own interests. At this point he is unaware of the fact that his wife's needs are not being met. Robert and the other characters are equally intriguing but something else has piqued my interest. Some of Chopin's characters are not fully developed. I know that these are important characters because they are representative of specific things; they are metaphoric characters. In particular, I've noticed the lovers and the lady in black. I'm fascinated by the fact that both the lovers and the lady in black are completely oblivious to the rest of the world. They are also in direct contrast with each another. For this week's reader response I am taking a different approach. Rather than analyzing the main characters, I will examine the lovers and the lady in black. The lady in black is first mentioned in Chapter I. Mr. Pontellier is surveying the cottages when he notices that a lady in black is walking demurely up and down, with her beads (468). In this example the rosary beads suggest that the lady in black is religious. I believe that this character is a symbol of religion. While everyone else is relaxing, she is busy praying. It is also worth noting that there are several passages which suggest that Edna is rebelling from her religious upbringing. For example, just after we meet the lovers, Edna shares a memory with Madame Ratignolle. She describes herself walking through a meadow as a young girl. She says, "Likely as not it was Sunday... and I was running away from prayers, from the Presbyterian service, read in a spirit of gloom by my father that chills me yet to think of it" (480). Similar to the description of her fathers service, the lady in black is serious and serene.

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