Themes and Images in The Awakening

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"The water of the Gulf stretched out before her, gleaming with the million lights of the sun. The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in the abysses of solitude. All along the white beach, up and down, there was no living thing in sight. A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water." Chapter XXXIX Edna Pontellier, a woman no longer certain of who she is. A woman no longer sure of her position in life, of who she is supposed to be. Edna Pontellier is a woman trapped in the bounds of her society, her culture, her time. She is confined in a box that possesses no boundaries. The limits placed on her are as finite as the horizon. The closer you come to the edge, the clearer it is that the end is just a little bit further. The water of the Gulf stretched out before her, gleaming with the million lights of the sun. The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude. All along the white beach, up and down, there was no living thing in sight. A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water. Pg 770, Chapter XXXIX The sea, this "water of the Gulf," is the deepest, most mysterious place Edna has ever explored. Until now, Edna had lived her life on the "white beach," a perfectly virginal island of blind men leading even more blind women. But Edna dips her toes into the dark waters and now she wishes to leave the island and swim out to a better place; or soar overhe... ... middle of paper ... ...e and felt my shoulder blades, to see if my wings were strong . . . `The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wing. It is a strong spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth.' " Ch. XXVII, pg 745. Unfortunately, Edna's wings are not strong, and she has swum out much too far to return back to the white beach. She swam "were no woman had swum before.", and she never made it back to the land. "A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water." There is a simplicity in these words that bring to life the unaffectedness of nature in a stark comparison to humanity and civilization. Edna is now a bird flying above, attempting to get somewhere else. However, she is broken now and cannot go any farther.

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