How does the allusion of the sea throughout the novela refer to Edna's sexuality in The Awakening?
The act of her learning to swim could also be seen as part of the metaphor. Before she can swim she is tied to the land and society's expectations for her behavior. Once she learns to swim, and learns that she can survive without her reliance on another person, she experiences an intense awareness of her individuality. She is free! She then becomes more free in other actions. She rejects her Leonce's demand to come to bed; she ends her social obligations in town; she eventually leaves her home and buys a her own; and she has a rather meaningless sexual affair with Arobin, all the while her heart belongs to another man, Robert. When you consider the rather explicit symbolism as noted in the previous post and extend it to her other actions, a very clear picture of a women finding and experience her sexual freedom becomes very clear.
There might be a difference of opinion on this one, but is accepted that the sea, as the bringer and origin of life is a representation of her new-found sexuality and, as she approaches the ocean completely naked, she "gives herself to it" entirely. It is as if the sea and Edna are embracing and intermingling and giving to each other. As she becomes tired from swimming, you can almost see an allegory to the sexual act, when she is in full engagement, then reaches a climax, and then lets herself go. As the ocean takes her in, she dies within it, having discovered her sexuality and sacrificing herself before letting it leave her in a dull and loveless life.