- The Ending: Some critics view the ending of the novel as Edna’s failure to complete her escape from social conventions, an act of cowardice once she no longer has a man by her side. Others view it as a final awakening, a brave decision to give herself to the sea in a show of strength and independence that defies social expectation. Which interpretation do you agree with, and why? (You may want to discuss “The Story of an Hour” as well.)
- Motherhood: How does Chopin describe motherhood in The Awakening? What does she suggest are the possibilities for women who engage in this traditional female role? Choose at least two mothers who appear in The Awakening and discuss both of their attitudes toward motherhood as well as what Chopin seems to be saying about this supposedly sacred institution. How does this contrast with Mademoiselle Reisz, a single, childless artist?
- Themes/Symbolism: What is the central theme of The Awakening? How does the author, Kate Chopin, use symbolism to convey her message? Symbols in the text include: music, art, children, changing houses, birds, the sea, cigars, clothes, food, the moon, sleep.
- Well-organized multiple-paragraph essay.
- A clear thesis statement (main argument).
- Textual evidence with analysis (quotes must be cited with page numbers in MLA Format).
- Creativity and sentence variety.
- Checked for spelling/grammar/mechanics.
You may also choose to use the following texts below in your essay:
- “The Story of An Hour” (Kate Chopin)
- “A Room of One’s Own” (Virginia Woolf)
- “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens” (Alice Walker)
- Ovarian Psycos (PBS Independent Lens)
- Ovarian Psycos (IMDB)
Handouts and Writing Resources:
- Awakening Essay Criteria
- The Awakening Tree Map or Persuasion Map
- The Awakening Rubric
- MLA Typing Guidelines
- SparkNotes: The Awakening (themes, characters, summary, analysis, quizzes, etc.)
- The Awakening Reading Comprehension Questions
- “Nineteenth Century Etiquette” (Walter, L.W.)
- The Awakening Teachers Guide (Signet Classics)