An Overview of the Awakening Novel

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 Major Events/summary

  1. Leonce comes home to his wife and kids. He checks on his kids who are asleep, and he finds that one of them has a fever. He returns to his wife to tell her, but Edna insists that he was fine before he went to bed. Leonce then tells her that she is neglecting her children and he says, “If it was not a mothers place to look after children, who’s on earth was it?” later on she cries because she feels “An indescribable oppression…”
  2. After Leonce left for business Robert asks Edna if she would go swimming with him. At first, she says no but after his persistence she agrees, and they go swimming together. She later feels that “A certain light was beginning to dawn dimly within her...” which showed her what had made her cry earlier
  3. Edna and her friend Adele go to the beach and Edna remembers when she used to have crushes on multiple men. She tells Adele that there is no passion in her relationship with her husband Leonce.
  4. When Adele leaves the beach with Robert, she tells him not to pursue Edna anymore because she thinks that Edna will take it seriously. Robert is hurt by Adele’s comment that he shouldn’t be taken seriously.
  5. Edna goes to a party where Mademoiselle Reisz plays piano. Edna is moved to tears and Reisz tells her that she is the only one that really enjoyed her music.
  6. Everyone at the party goes out to swim. Edna who doesn’t know how to swim, swims out into the sea and swims back for the first time. (foreshadowing)
  7. Robert leaves for Mexico leaving Edna who finds that she has feelings for Robert.
  8. Edna goes to Mademoiselle Reisz’s house and learns that Robert has written her letters about Edna.
  9. Edna’s father visits and they go to the horse races where they meet Alcee Arobin
  10. Edna decides that she wants to move into a smaller house by herself. She tells her husband and he disapprove of her idea, yet she still moves.
  11. Edna and Alcee become very close but to Edna the relationship is only physical. Edna feels like she has cheated Robert
  12. Edna goes to meet Reisz, but she isn’t there. Robert shows up at Reisz house and tells her that he has been home for a couple of days. They spend some time together but its awkward. Arobin shows up at Edna’s house and Robert leaves.
  13. Robert and Edna meet up once again by accident at a restaurant. They go home together and kiss, but Edna is forced to leave because her friend Adele is about to give birth. Robert says the he will wait for her, but when she comes back, he is gone.
  14. Edna goes to the beach to swim although it is much too cold. She swims far out into the sea and drowns. Setting The Awakening takes place in the late nineteenth century in New Orleans. The society she lives among has a certain standard for women. Women are expected to put the needs of their children and husband before their own. The atmosphere of the story feels melancholy and pitiful because of how things consistently seem to not go Edna’s way.


Edna Pontellier-The main character and protagonist in The Awakening. Edna is a middle-aged woman who seems to be unhappy with her relationship with her husband Leonce, whom she has two kids with.

Leonce Pontellier- Antagonist in The Awakening. Leonce is a business man, and Edna Pontellier’s husband. He realizes that his wife is distant and isn’t like the average “mother-woman”. Leonce seems to constantly be away on business trips.

Adele Ratignolle- Edna’s best friend. Adele is seen as the perfect “mother-woman”. Adele is Edna’s opposite.

Robert Lebrun- Edna’s love interest. Robert is known for fawning over a different woman each summer. Robert fawns over Edna but his feeling seem to be more sincere. Robert helps inspire Edna’s “awakening”.

Mademoiselle Reisz- Musician that Edna looks up to. Edna is inspired by Reisz and is moved to tears when she plays piano. Robert writes letters to Reisz about his feelings for Edna which is Enda’s only way of hearing from Robert. Reisz is my favorite character because she portrays an artistic, independent women.

Alcee Arobin- Another love interest of Edna’s. Edna met Alcee at the horse races. Alcee has a bad reputation with married women. Alcee and Edna create a relationship together but for Edna its purely physical and she has no feelings for him.

Doctor Mandelet- The doctor Leonce goes to when he begins to worry about his wife’s strange actions.


The Conflict in The Awakening is partly internal and partly external. The major conflict that the main character, Edna Pontellier, faces is the conflict of societies standards of a women vs. what Edna wishes to do with her life. Through the story, Edna isn’t portrayed as a normal woman. During this time in the story, women were to care for their children and worship their husbands, but Edna starts to feel as though she doesn’t want to live as the ideal women. Her husband sees this and tries to put a stop to it through medical help, but it is no use. Edna also must battle herself and chose between her urges and what she knows is supposed to be done.

At the end of the book, when Edna drowns herself in the sea, it is apparent that she could find no other way to solve her conflict, and the conflict is left unresolved. Reaction I overall didn’t really enjoy the book because of it’s depressing atmosphere. Although I didn’t like the book I did like the portrayal of Edna as a woman that doesn’t fit into societies standards and the morals the book shows of how forcing someone to be something that don’t want to be could be harmful. I probably would not recommend this author to anyone just based off of the experience I’ve had from this book. I don’t really think this book was meant for someone of my age group or grade level, and that may have played into my lack of enjoyment.

Overall, I thought that the book was confusing sometimes with the amount of detail, and some of the events that played out. I also think some of the themes were confusing because they were meant for a more mature audience.


  • In the story Edna is offered help by a doctor to come and talk to him. Edna never takes him up on his offer and instead kills herself. I’m not sure of the reasoning behind that.
  • Edna confesses that her marriage to Leonce was an accident. Why would she rush into marriage after being interested in multiple men?
  • Why doesn’t Edna come clean to her husband about how she feels in their relationship?
  • Why does Edna continue to have and affair with Alcee even though she has feelings for Robert and feels as though she is cheating on him?
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An Overview Of The Awakening Novel. (2019, Nov 15). Retrieved April 19, 2024 , from

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