- Paperback: 120 pages
- Publisher: SoHo Books (November 24, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1936594498
- ISBN-13: 978-1936594498
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 953 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #832,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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"Interesting and Timely . . . Chopin's oracular feminism and prophetic prophetic psychology almost outweigh her estimable literary talents." -- --Newsweek
About the Author
Kate Chopin (1850ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ1904) was an author of short stories and novels, mostly of a Louisiana Creole background. She is now considered to have been a forerunner of feminist authors of the 20th century.</DIV></DIV>
Top customer reviews
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The Awakening is the story of wealthy and unhappy Edna Pontellier. She lives in New Orleans though the story opens when she is vacationing on the Louisiana coast with her husband and their two young sons. Her husband is portrayed as a stuffy bore and the children as always wanting something. At the summer resort she meets a variety of people. Her close friend is very conventional, pregnant again, and would sacrifice anything for her children. Another female vacationer is a pianist and an unconventional single woman. She offers an alternative view of life for a woman. Edna falls in love with the resort owner's flirtatious son Robert Lebrun. When she returns to her daily life in New Orleans, Edna is despondent. She misses Robert and she is unhappy being a wife and mother. She tries to carve out some independence with her painting. When her husband leaves on an extended business trip, she has an affair with a notorious womanizer. She ends the affair on her own terms. Still unhappy and unfulfilled, she rents a small house which she intends to live in on her own. Her husband is appalled, but he is mainly concerned about appearances. In a move worthy of today's best spin doctors, he makes arrangements to renovate their house in order to explain his wife living elsewhere. In the meantime, Robert returns, sparks fly, and he leaves again. Edna returns to the coast alone.
That is a lot of story in a short book. The writing is descriptive and evocative without being too flowery. The real power is in the main character daring to defy a woman's prescribed role. She tries to assert herself in small ways, but becomes bolder when this does not work. There is a great scene when Edna decides to sleep outside in a hammock. Her husband orders her in the house. When she refuses, he sits on the porch with her all night. He drinks wine and smokes cigars while she tries to sleep. It is a great example of the passive-aggressive behavior that occurs in most marriages at some point. I noticed that some reviewers do not like the character of Edna. She is not particularly likable, but neither are any of the other characters in this book. She is an unhappy woman who does not like society's rules. She has very few options and makes a lot of blunders along the way. The book really resonated with me at this time in my life and also at this time in our social and political climate. I'm so glad I re-read this!
1. The Awakening
2. Beyond the Bayou
3. Ma'ame Pélagie
4. Desiree's Baby
5. A Respectable Woman
6. The Kiss
7. A Pair of Silk Stockings
8. The Locket
9. A Reflection
The awakening approaches the realization of the female sexuality. The story takes place during the late 1800s in Grand Isle, a summer resort for the wealthy in New Orleans. Edna Pontellier, who is a painter, is vacationing with her husband, Léonce, and their two sons at the cottages of Madame Lebrun. After her husband leaves, Edna falls in love with Robert Lebrun, the older, single son of Madame Lebrun. When Edna returns to the city, she is a changed woman who rents her own place and has a sexual relationship with another man.
Later when she meets Robert again and Robert rejects her since she is a married woman, although he is in love with her, Edna returns to her husband and children.
In Beyond the Bayou, La Folle suffers from her deeply ingrained fear of the unknown, but an incident with someone named Cheri who shot himself in the leg by accident, pulls her out of her familiar surroundings and liberates her from her fears.
In Ma'ame Pélagie, the main character is able to continue appearing youthful while her dreams of the old life still survive because she associates the most hopeful period of her life with antebellum Louisiana. At the end, she realizes she is old inside herself, although outwardly she appeared young.
Desiree's Baby evaluates the class-based and racially prejudiced attitudes of the Antebellum South. Desiree gives birth to a black baby, while her husband Armand believes in acts according to the social and class prejudices of the era. A letter written by Armand's mother, however, discloses Armand's African heritage.
In A Respectable Woman, the wealthy Mrs. Baroda faces temptation of an illicit affair by a guest named Governail, as she struggles with her own self-imposed rules. Finally she wins over her emotions and approaches her husband and tells him she has overcome everything.
In The Kiss, Nathalie is plotting to marry the good-natured but unattractive and rather foolish Brantain while maintaining an affair with Mr. Harvy. At the end, Harvy ends their relationship and Natalie stays with Brantain as he has much better material assets and social status.
In A Pair of Silk Stockings, Mrs. Sommers comes across some money. Even though her original spending plan is more conventional, her emotions get the better of her and she spends the whole thing on herself, showing her craving to return to a past, or rather her youth, when she was independent and didn't have to scrimp and save.
The Locket deals with love and war, during the Civil War era, between two lovers Edmond and Octavie. When a soldier's body is found with the locket Octavie had given to Edmond, Octavie goes into mourning. Edmond, however, returns home in one piece, revealing that the locket was stolen by another soldier. Edmond's return restores Octavie's happiness. This story shows the ravages of war on not only the land but on the people
who are in love.
A Reflection is a very short piece, resembling a prose-poem on the author's brief thoughts on life.
In these stories, important themes are: independence and autonomy, especially those of a woman's, gender and identity, the author's opposition to societal norms, class and race, love and desire and the difference between the two concepts, life and death, and Civil War.
Kate Chopin was a child of Irish and French Creole descent in the upper class of St. Louis in the decades surrounding the Civil War. She is known best as reflecting the colors of Lousiana as setting and as a farsighted writer exploring race, sexuality, freedom, and psychology of the individual as a person.