The Awakening was my first book for the Feminist February reading challenge I chose The Awakening because it was first published in 1899, and apparently caused a scandal with its descriptions of female infidelity It s also free on Kindle Why is it that, although written in the 1800 s, that The Awakening is still relevant today The protagonist, Edna Pontellier, speaks of how a woman is expected to give herself up for her children, and rages against this notion Today, we still speak of women in terms of their relationship to other people mother, grandmother, wife, sister Think of the headlines involving women Mother, 35, eats ice cream at the park Wife of celebrated politician wears leopard print dress to charity ball It s quite ridiculous, isn t it And yet we are still subjected to this form of sexism, sometimes without even noticing.Edna s lover, Robert, mentions dreaming that Edna s husband would free her, give her up, for Robert to have You have been a very, very foolish boy, wasting your time dreaming of impossible things when you speak of Mr Pontellier setting me free I am no longer one of Mr Pontellier s possessions to dispose of or not I give myself where I choose If he were to say, here, Robert, take her and be happy she is yours, I should laugh at you both.Many people, even in apparent forward thinking cultures, still believe that women are property If challenged, they may deny it, but you only have to speak to a group of people about a woman keeping her own surname upon marriage, or the husband taking his wife s surname, to discover just how backwards their views actually are I kept my surname upon marriage, yet I have received negative comments from several places not just online trolls, but members of my own and my husband s family I have even broken ties with some family members because of their downright nasty response to my decision How ridiculous that, in this day and age, some people feel so strongly about what is and isn t acceptable for a woman to do.The Awakening, with its incredibly apt title, is a great read It s wonderfully written, and very enjoyable If you re participating with Feminist February, this is an excellent book to pop on your list Actually, even if you re not participating, you should read this book. I feel rather mixed with this book, on the one hand I found Edna to be shallow, naive and selfish but on the other I admire her spirit and eventual determination to break free of the bonds she finds herself in Chopin does show the restrictions and limiting expectations that were, and to some extent still are, placed on women by certain parts of society and how much of an emotional prison these can create Yes Edna is far privileged than many women of the time and she does ultimately make some very selfish decisions, which can be interpreted very negatively But if you consider why she is in the situation she is in, with the expectation of Victorian society that ladies marry, have children and be the perfect wife putting aside their own dreams, wants and desires not to mention the fact they are not considered to be sexual beings , it leaves her with few options And, for me, it is these limitations that mean Edna has no other way to rebel and has every right to be selfish It is her only way to be herself and break free of her bonds Chopin has done well to show this battle in its entirety both the good and the bad and in doing so she highlights how the choices left to women of the time epitomize being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Edna Pontellier Is Married, Twenty Eight, And At The Cross Road Of Her Life She Is Passionate And Artistic, But Has No One Who Understands Her Deep Yearnings She Jumps At The Chance To Spend A Summer Away From Her Husband And The Heat Of New Orleans At A Small Costal Retreat Here She Is Enveloped In A Small Circle Of Friends Where She Can Begin To Throw Off The Strictures And Moir S Of The S Bourgeoisie Stepwise Edna Renounces Her Obligations, Takes A Lover, And Is Propelled In A Course That Frees, Consumes, And Eventually Destroys Her In What Was To Be Her Last Novel, Kate Chopin Shocked The Readers Of Her Day, By Showing A Woman Fulfilled By Throwing Off The Ties Of Marriage And Children