Summary and Paraphrase Assignment







Summary and Paraphrase Assignment

The main cast of The Awakening, by Chopin, seems to be undergoing through an issue of existence. They are faced by both mental and psychological issues. Those battling with mental and psychological issues include the likes of Edna, Robert, Léonce, Adèle, Arobin, and Mademoiselle Reisz. This is probably the reason why all the efforts by Edna Pontellier in attempting to reconcile them are fruitless. The different members undertake to solve these ontological issues in their own ways.

We find that Mademoiselle Reisz results into a decisive yet spurious plan by disallowing her body from experiencing mind-absorbing passion. She later uses the much younger Edna to regain her lost passion. The author also highlights on the issue of ontology through other minor characters in her other stories such as the “lady in black” and “the lovers.” The shadowy unnamed character appears to be very religious since the various instances that she makes appearances in the she is seen either chanting prayers, speaking with her beads, taking issues with indulgence and the like.

The unnamed woman shares similar traits with Mademoiselle Reisz since she seems to be always dressed in black, refuses to enter the water, and believes and devotes her life to deities. As a form of juxtaposition, we also find a pianist who engages deeply in the lives of the two lovers as a way of awakening her sensual being. She ends up obtaining sexual pleasure through keeping near and spying on the two lovers (Ringe 1994). In the novel, we find the lady in black engaging in voyeuristic activities as she trails the two lovers clutching her Sunday prayer book. She keeps her distance at first but soon closes in on them. This trio is used by Chopin in romantic imagery as contrast to the evident narcissism with Edna’s adamant independence.

The lady in black steers away from facing her narcissism and continues with her voyeuristic activities by keeping a close eye on the two lovers and trying to emulate the sensuality of the lovers. The novel therefore highlights the social and psychological issues. This is also indicated in many of the readings of the Awakening while some of its aspects such as philosophical reflections tend to take up a back seat (Eble, 1994). The lady in black plays a vital role in enabling the reader to comprehend the author’s interest in facing ontological problems. By facing this issue in differing perspectives, we find that some of the characters later on find their awakening: the realization of the self and identity while there are others who miss out on this (Church & Havener 2008).


            Kate Chopin highlights on the various socially acceptable roles through her depiction of the female characters. Through her depiction of Edna we find a perfect mother and wife. This turns to be the betrayal of her awakening. Madame Ratignolle on the other hand is portrayed as an independent and self absorbed house help and like Mademoiselle Reisz. The latter is portrayed as a highly religious character that is pious and engages in voyeuristic activities (Church & Havener 2008).

The author is very interested in an ontological conundrum whereby we see the characters entangled in identity crisis and the freedom from definition. We find that there are those who decide do engage in voyeuristic obsessions with the aim of gratifying their heart’s desires. We find that Mademoiselle Reisz engages in voyeuristic activities to satisfy her sexual urges since she is not getting this from her marriage (Church 2006). This involves the tailing of the two lovers, spying on them and emulating their passionate moments. This act is depicted immoral. This is also in contrast to her religious believes and her submission to deities. Her religious life is derived from the way she is always in her prayer beads, carrying a bible and at times in prayer.



Chopin, K. (1993). The Awakening. Mineola: Dover.

Church, J. & Havener, C. (2008). The “Lady In Black” In Chopin’s The Awakening. Binghamton University. Heldref Publications.

Church, J. (2006).  “An Abuse of Art in Chopin’s The Awakening.” American Literary Realism 39.120–23. Critical Ed., 2nd ed. Ed. Margo Culley. New York: Norton,. 188–93.

Eble, K. (1994). “A Forgotten Novel: Kate Chopin’s The Awakening.” The Awakening. Norton

Ringe, Donald A. (1994). “Romantic Imagery in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening.” The Awakening. Norton. Critical Ed., 2nd ed. Ed. Margo Culley. New York: Norton,. 222–27.


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