Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Awakening

Sometimes we, as modern women, forget just how many freedoms we have. In the midst of all the complaining about unequal wages and glass ceilings, we neglect to acknowledge that we currently have a voice in society to even make such complaints. We forget that it wasn't always this way.

There was a time when women were deemed fit only for bearing children and tending to the house. They weren't allowed to have interests about the larger world, or hobbies other than art, nor were they allowed to exhibit any kind of passion. Women who married well-to-do men weren't even allowed to do the chores: what a horrible, boring way to live.

Kate Chopin gives readers a peek into the life of just such a woman. Edna is married to a wealthy businessman in New Orleans. She has a couple of kids and a wide circle of friends. She seemed happy, until her passion was sparked by a young man named Robert. Suddenly, she saw that her life was, in fact, a prison from which there was no possibility of escape.

I was deeply moved by this book; moved in a way that I can't even fully explain. I think all women feel like Edna at one point or another. Chopin really beautifully captured the first blush of passion, the mind numbing effects of romantic obsession and what it feels like to be a conflicted woman.

"As Edna walked along the street she was thinking of Robert. She was still under the spell of her infatuation. She had tried to forget him, realizing the inutility of remembering. But the thought of him was like an obsession, ever pressing itself upon her. It was not that she dwelt upon the details of their acquaintance, or recalled in any special or peculiar way his personality; it was his being, his existence, which dominated her thought, fading sometimes as if it would melt into the mist of the forgotten, reviving again with an intensity which filled her with incomprehensible longing."

I love that. Edna was obsessed with the mere idea of Robert's existence.

I highly recommend this book. It was chosen by Pattie for the Something About Me Challenge, who read it at a time in her life when she was separated from her husband and children for a week. I can understand why someone in those circumstances would feel such a strong connection with Edna. This book was also recommended to me by my good friend and former bandmate Karen. I can see exactly why this book affected her so much. Thank you both ladies for giving me such good reasons to read this truly outstanding book.

1 comment:

jehara said...

i read this book in high school and was similarly moved by it. it's one of those books i have never forgotten.