Hélène Cixous’ famous critique of the western binary system of gender definition (and conceptualizations that issue from it) provides an interesting framework with which to look at the novel. SUNY-New Paltz graduate student Marissa Caston made an important connection between and Cixous’ thoughts on mothering with this compelling, if dated quote from “The Laugh of the Medusa”: In women there is always more or less of the mother who makes everything all right, who nourishes, and who stand up against separation; a force that will not be cut off but will knock the wind out of the codes. She explains to him at the story’s end, “perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life.”The kind doctor encourages her to confide in him saying, “I know I would understand, and I tell you there are not many who would – not many, my dear.” If only she had given this male ally a chance, and shared her dilemma with him.
Chopin problematizes traditional roles and expectations for men and women by illustrating the dilemmas that arise when one troubles the waters by behaving in non-conformist ways. We can look at Edna specifically in her role as a mother. Nevertheless, she no longer trusts in any sort of permanence in any relationship. Mandalet, well acquainted with human affairs of the heart, seems to understand Edna and may possibly have led her to some alternate solution than suicide.
These stories - colorful in description and bold in ideas - not only give the reader an insight into the region's customs and social structures but also offer a clear idea of the author's beliefs about individuality.
Chopin, a regionalist writer of the Realism movement, typically set her work in the South (Louisiana, specifically).
The dilemma of how to mother her children appropriately, with the risk of subjecting them to the public shame she brings upon herself, seems to be the decisive factor. This question constitutes a major theme of the novel. She rejects outright the possibility of marriage, saying, “I am no longer one of Mr. In contrast, she loves Robert and finds great comfort in him.
Simultaneously, she witnesses the growth of her own spiritual life: “There was with her a feeling of having descended in the social scale, with a corresponding sense of having risen in the spiritual.” None of these minor outrages, even the collapse of her marriage, were Léonce to let her go, would necessarily have precipitated her suicide. How does she fit traditional gender roles for women, and how does she branch away from such expectations? He seems to love her generously, yet his desires are tinged with a possessiveness Edna cannot abide. If he were here to say, ‘Here, Robert, take her and be happy; she is yours,’ I should laugh at you both.”At this point, Edna has been sexually involved with Alcee Arobin, the town Casanova, who “detected her latent sensuality” and with whom she has a purely carnal, adulterous relationship. by Kate Chopin, an 1899 novella telling the story of a young mother who undergoes a dramatic period of change as she “awakens” to the restrictions of her traditional societal role and to her full potential as a woman. Contemporary critics and theorists tend to think more in terms of a “continuum of gender and sexuality” or a vast range of possibilities between so-called . She does not question her position, nor complain of her duties. As a rule in the text, skin color is assumed to be white and only specified otherwise in terms of difference. Many times, we find Edna Pontellier in situations that signify more metaphorical awakenings to new knowledge and sensual experience. In contrast to Adèle, Edna’s divergence from expected actions and behaviors becomes all the more striking. As an interesting stylistic feature, the novel incorporates episodes written in the Darwinian vein, particularly those involving attention to the female, sexual drive. Chopin was the daughter of an Irish immigrant father and French mother and spent most of her childhood attending a Catholic boarding school in St. The third of five children, she excelled in school, received awards and even delivered her commencement address at her high school graduation.Sadly, Chopin learned of loss early on when her father died in a train accident, and her half-brother passed away in the war. She refuses to attend a family wedding and remembers her own as an “accident,” a revolt against her father and sister’s wishes. Think about Edna when we first meet her, and as she develops through the course of the novel. Edna credits Robert with her that summer at Grand Isle. Back in New Orleans, she stops holding her Tuesday evening “at-homes;” she stomps on her wedding ring; and she moves out of her house into a smaller space of her own. Robert Lebrun sees Edna as a person and provides a more equal meeting of the minds than her marriage can. Marriage and motherhood constitute unsupportable restrictions for Edna. Edna wades out into the sea where she experienced her first sensual awakening and, later, her powerful achievement of learning to swim. Léonce, her well-respected, businessman husband, clearly objectifies Edna when she returns from a sunny beach day: “You are burnt beyond recognition,” [Léonce] added, looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property. Birth and death converge as she immerses herself in water, the feminine element, par excellence. Rather, it was her depiction of thoughtful women, searching for a purpose beyond the confines of married life and beyond the expectations of the family that made her work remarkable.While her 19th century American audiences found her ideas direct and unsettling, Chopin has gained an identity in the decades since as a brave writer who explored themes like marriage, sexuality and identity in her work.