Considering that the women come to believe Mr. Wright strangled Minnie’s bird, they make the inference that he did not treat her properly and she would not have been able to get expensive things like silk often. If Minnie wrapped her bird in silk, then it obviously means a lot to her. The women finally understand what happened to Minnie’s bird when they take a closer look at it, “But, Mrs. Peters!” cried Mrs. Hale. “Look at it! Its neck—look at its neck!
The same way Mrs. Wright was killed, so was Mrs. Wright's bird. The death of Mr. Wright was Mrs. Wright's way of starting a new life. The bird's death symbolizes Mrs. Wright's dying because she is with Mr.
(Morrison 1993) Morrison interprets the bird to be language and the woman to be a practiced writer. Morrison states that "[The woman] is worried about how the language she dreams in, given to her at birth, is handled, put into service, even withheld from her for certain nefarious purposes. ...She believes that if the bird in the hands of her visitors is dead, the custodians are responsible for the corpse" (Morrison 1993). The woman is aware that language, her very way of communicating with the world, her sole instrument of expression in modern society, is dying. As language continues to die, the woman and her medium for expression become increasingly confined, with death as the final outcome.
This caged bird personifies Edna’s entrapment in the role of a wife and a mother, forced to constantly think of others and is never expected to think for herself. Like the parrot, Edna is greatly limited by the rules of society and is confined to displaying the same behavior as those around her. Also, the parrot gives voice to Edna’s unspoken feelings and voices Edna’s desire for solitude. Hanging in a cage on the other side of the door from the parrot is a mockingbird, who portrays Madame Reisz. In the beginning of the novel, it is acknowledged that the mockingbird is the only one who is able to comprehend the parrot’s Spanish.
The mockingbird serves as an antagonist to the parrot, or a symbolic representation of the forces that oppose Edna. The description of its “fluty notes” sounds pretty and feminine, in contrast with the harshness of the parrot; similarly, Edna struggles with the pretty, feminine roles that are forced upon her within her society with “maddening persistence,” a constant threat to drown out the parrot’s, and Edna’s, voice. The ending passage shows none of the conflict imagery as does the beginning, but rather images of giving up. “The old terror flamed up for an instant, then sank again” refers on the surface to Edna’s fear of swimming, but could on another level indicate the fear hinted at in the first passage that drove her to grow and fight. Hence her drive has, like the terror, sunk, ceased to be.
Edna first starts out trapped, like the parrot, doing as she is trained to do, then awakens and speaks her opinions, like the mockingbird, and after her awakening she realizes she never obtained freedom and becomes the bird with the broken wing. Edna found herself in her awakening, learning to speak her opinion; however, she remained alone throughout it. Edna might have been able to fly strong if she had more support, “…let us bear that birds fly in flocks and not alone” (Clark 346), if Edna had more female characters that followed her to the mockingbird stage and did not remain as parrots, she might have survived.
Symbols are message within a word that must be analyzed to discover. In The Awakening, Kate Chopin conveys her ideas by using carefully crafted symbols that reflect her characters' thoughts and futures. Early in the novel, while Edna attempts to escape from society's strong grasp, birds emphasize her entanglement by forecasting her actions and monitor her development by reflecting her feelings. The novel opens with the image of a bird, trapped and unable to communicate: "a green and yellow parrot, which hung in the cage outside the door...could speak a little Spanish, and also a language that nobody understood" (1). Like the bird, Edna feels trapped and believes that society has imprisoned her.
Edna wants to feel the embrace of nature upon her but instead she doesn¹t feel "uplifted" and hears a "mournful lullaby"(471). This gloomy presentation of nature foreshadows the future events in Edna¹s life. Kate Chopin uses the symbolic meaning of a bird to deepen the meaning of the story and to foreshadow the upcoming events. In "The Awakening" a bird symbolizes Edna Pontilier herself. In the beginning of the novel, Edna is the "green and yellow parrot" caged "outside the door", saying, "Go away!
Toni Morrison shared a story in her speech about an old, blind woman who was very wise. Two young people came to visit her and prove that the woman was not as wise as they heard she was. They pretended to hold a bird and asked her if it was dead or alive. " 'I don't know,' she says, 'I don't know whether the bird you are holding is dead or alive, but what I do know is that it is in your hands. It is in your hands.'"
Wardle, Elizabeth. "Identity, Authority, and Learning to Write in New Workplaces." Wardle, Elizabeth and Doug Downs. Writing about Writing A College Reader. Boston: Bedford/St.Martin's, 2011.