In The Awakening, Edna refuses to "sacrifice herself for her children," yet, because she cannot give them what they need, she takes her own life. Discuss Edna's paradox.

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A paradox is a statement that appears on a superficial level to contradict itself. Edna's paradox, and her suicide, has less to do with her mothering abilities and her attachment to her children and more to do with the fact that she finds herself most alive when she is able to act on her freedom to decide her own death.

Edna is unable to "sacrifice herself for her children" because she cannot fathom sacrificing herself for anyone. Her grasp of her own need for independence and autonomy is firm and unrelenting and not even the pressures of motherhood can motivate her to let go of her hold on her own identity. Edna's suicide is a paradoxical way of making her identity as a free agent permanent; in death, she is thoroughly unchangeable.

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Edna does not think of her life as vital to her existence; instead, she conceives of the most vital, the most important, part of her existence as her self-awareness, her autonomous identity, and her absolute freedom from social rules, gender roles, and marital...

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