The Awakening | Study Guide

Kate Chopin

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Chapter 19

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 19 from Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening.

The Awakening | Chapter 19 | Summary

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Summary

Edna feels silly about breaking the vase and seems to move past the anger of that evening. She doesn't abandon her awakening, however: "She began to do as she liked and to feel as she liked." She abandons any pretense of keeping up appearances, spending much of her time painting. Mr. Pontellier is shocked and, eventually, angry because his wife refuses to do any of those duties a wife is expected to do. He suspects she might be becoming unbalanced.

Edna has all the household members model for her, and as she works she sings the tune she learned from Robert. The tune reminds her of her time at Grand Isle. As the days pass she finds herself sometimes happy for no reason and sometimes unhappy for no reason.

Analysis

Edna is now firmly committed to aligning her inner and outer selves ("to do as she liked"). She continues to get resistance from her husband, but she isn't afraid to speak up for herself. The downside of consistently obeying her inner self is that her inner self is in chaos. Her emotions fluctuate without reason, and since she is now freely expressing these inner urges she becomes impulsive. Edna faces the dilemma that, having cast off the structures of society, she is responsible for creating her own structures. Can she rise to the occasion?

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