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Comparing Enda and Adele in The Awakening
In The Awakening by Kate Chopin, the setting is in the late 1800s on Grand Isle in Louisiana. The main character of the story is Edna Pontellier who is not a Creole. Other important characters are Adele Ratignolle, Mr. Ratgnolle, Robert Lebrun, and Leonce Pontellier who are all Creole's. In the Creole society the men are dominant. Seldom do the Creole's accept outsiders to their social circle, and women are expected to provide well-kept homes and have many children. Edna and Adele are friends who are very different because of their the way they were brought up and they way they treat their husbands. Adele is a loyal wife who always obeys her husband's commands. Edna is a woman who strays from her husband and does not obey her husband's commands. Kate Chopin uses Adele to emphasize the differences between her and Edna.
Edna Pontellier is not a Creole, so her relationship with her husband is difficult. In her husband's eyes she has failed in her duties as a wife and as a mother to her own children. What Enda's husband expects from her is never what she does. Leonce comes home in the middle of the night and talks to Edna while she is sleeping. Then he tells her that Raoul one of their sons is sick and tells her to get up and check on him. Edna had never really had the desire to have children but she did anyway. She was not a "mother-woman" because she would rather be alone sometimes; she did not feel she had to be with her children twenty-four hours a day. If one Edna's boys "....took a tumble whilst at play, he would not apt rush crying to his mother's arms for comfort; he would more likely pick himself up"(16). Enda never felt that she fit in with Creole society because she "...most forcibly was their entire absence of prudery"(19). The Creoles' would talk about things such as childbirth and would flirt with others and not mean anything. Yet Edna would never dream of talking about her childbirth's with anyone or flirting unless she meant it. Creole women devoted their whole lives to their husbands where Enda was carefree and did as she pleased. She was carefree because she would go out onto the beach with only a sundress and a little hat on when she was suppose to be all covered up so she would not become sun burnt.
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Chopin uses Adele to show how a Creole wife should treat her husband and children because Edna is not Creole and does not treat her husband or children in the correct manner. Adele and Edna are different in many ways because Adele is part of the Creole society, a "mother-woman," who always worries about her children and is a devoted wife. Edna is not part of the Creole society, she is not a "mother-woman" and never worries about her children. She is not devoted to her husband and strays from him at times. Chopin uses these key facts in Edna's life to show how she is being to awaken to that fact that she is not happy where she is now and wants to change her life. This awakening may lead Edna to become more independent and become distant from her husband, Leonce.