In The Awakening, how does Kate Chopin sympathize with Edna but she doesn't pity her?  

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the novel The Awakeningby Kate Chopin, the character of Edna Pontellier is a middle-aged married woman and mother who discovers her hunger for passion and romance for the first time in her entire life.

Kate Chopin obviously sysympathizes with her main character. This is evident in that she lets Edna get away with mostly everything she can think of in the story. For example, when Edna falls in love with Robert, she is permitted to be out and about with him without much argument from Edna's husband. Chopin also gives Edna the chance to speak up her mind and to even move away from her house and into the "pigeon hole", where she was truly happy- all this while Edna is still married.

However, Chopin does not pity Edna because she allows for Edna's fate to take care of her. Edna is obviously a very frustrated woman whose empty heart makes her do things with the only aim of catching up with an otherwise sterile love life. However, she is too late. She is a married woman, she is middle aged, and she has children. She has an established marriage within a society that expects her to be a certain way. If Edna tries to start a new life, she is more than likely to fail. And she does fail. Robert cannot be hers, and she loses her interest in all. When Edna finally commits suicide, it is not as if she tried to put an end to her life. Instead, it seems as if she wanted to give herself the chance to be reborn in another life.

Therefore, while Chopin gives Edna the chance of experiencing her awakening, she also allows for Edna to come to the sad conclusion that her awakening happened at a bad time, and she will have to pay for it.

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The Awakening

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