The Awakening | Study Guide

Kate Chopin

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The Awakening | Chapter 6 | Summary



Edna is conflicted about her response to Robert's invitation to go to the beach. She senses a light is "beginning to dawn dimly within her" but is more confused than illuminated by this light. She is at the beginning of something—of a new awareness of her place in the universe and her identity as an individual.


Edna has a growing sense of herself as an individual, and she senses this is somehow related to her contradictory reactions to Robert's invitation to go to the beach. Her new awareness, rather than giving her great insight, confuses her. It has little outlet in her external life but is mostly confined to "dreams," "thoughtfulness," and "the shadowy anguish which had overcome her the midnight when she had abandoned herself to tears."

Rather than cast this confusion negatively, Chopin turns it into an almost biblical image of creation. In the beginning there was chaos: "But the beginning of things, of a world especially, is necessarily vague, tangled, chaotic, and exceedingly disturbing." Chopin then compounds this creation image with strong sea imagery, suggesting a primeval chaos that will give rise to life itself.

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