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Two symbolic passages

Uploaded by Brent Goodin on Feb 15, 2002

“Mrs. Pontellier was not a woman given to confidences, a characteristic hitherto contrary to her nature. Even as a child she had lived her own small life all within herself. At a very early period she had apprehended instinctively the dual life – that outward existence which conforms, the inward life which questions.” (Pg. 13)

This mainly focuses on the idea of her dual existence. Her interior self is in conflict with her exterior self. Just from a purely a literary interpretation of the quote one can extract that she may appear a disciplined, orderly, conformist woman from a peripheral viewpoint, but on the outside her beliefs are taking new form, she is becoming a new woman. At this point in the story she only shows a part of herself and never really liberates herself so much as to deviate from the societal norm. She encapsulates individualism and as the book progresses this idiosyncratic tumor spreads throughout her being profusely.

This is also the first time there is any reference to familial background. As a child her father suppressed her and throughout most of her adulthood she is still living under the supervision of a male figure, Mr. Pontellier. Now, as she begins to question societies institutions, she learns more of herself. She is on a quest of self-discovery and she had taken some baby steps. This passage forebodes a journey where she derails from the societal conventions ingrained in her from birth, which further reinforces the theme of independence or more like bondage and freedom. Her father and her husband represent the shackles of society and the formation of her self-reliant, non-conformist, introspective self symbolizes the key.

“She was fond of her children in an uneven, impulsive way. She would sometimes gather them passionately to her heart; she would sometimes forget them…There absence was sort of a relief, though she did not admit this, even to herself. It seemed to free her of a responsibility which she had blindly assumed and for which Fate had not fitted her.” (Pg. 18)

Does Mrs. Pontellier love her children or are they manacles that bind her to her demagogic and autocratic husband? I am inclined to agree with the latter. Of course she loves them as all mother do, but to the extent that her freedom and joy are effaced by her spouse’s incessant abuse and his ‘I am always right complex.’...

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Uploaded by:   Brent Goodin

Date:   02/15/2002

Category:   The Awakening

Length:   2 pages (499 words)

Views:   2395

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