Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening is fiction rather than a true story. Set in 1890s Louisiana, the narrative revolves around Edna Pontellier, a mother and a wife who tries to uncover her own identity and her true purpose as a woman in a predominantly patriarchal society.
The novel may not be a true story, but it was inspired by the sociopolitical climate in the nineteenth century—specifically gender roles and the role of women in society, which were very much real social issues. Chopin was raised by her widowed mother, her grandmother, and her great-grandmother, all of whom were smart, independent, and strong-willed women. She grew up witnessing female power and dominance rather than female submission, which was quite rare in the nineteenth century, especially in Louisiana, where wives were still considered property of their husbands.
Chopin created Edna with the purpose of showcasing how women should be allowed to freely explore their identity and their sexuality, and to find themselves in other roles aside from mothers and wives. She believed they should be able to decide freely who they were and who they wanted to become, without anyone forcing them to conform to society's norms and standards. This was problematic for many readers, who believed that Edna's behavior in the book was immoral, unladylike, and unconventional, which is why the book was heavily criticized and even censored and banned.
Today, The Awakening is considered a foundational work of feminist literature.