In Kate Chopin's book The Awakening, how does the sea represent freedom?

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teachertaylor | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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At the end of the novel The Awakening, Edna goes out into the sea to swim.  It has been revealed earlier that Edna has not known how to swim and has only recently learned.  So at the end of the novel, swimming far out into sea is probably something that Edna should not reasonably be doing.  This is the clue that Edna's actions are not meant to be read literally, but figuratively.  Eventually, Edna continues far out into the sea and her body becomes tired, and although it is not stated directly, it is implied that she drowns herself.  For the length of the book, Edna has been trying to break free from her lifestyle which she finds constricting, but she can never manage to be truly happy in the paths that she takes.  The sea for Edna is expansive and holds limitless possibilities, and this is what she wants for her life.  Her suicide by means of the sea is symbolic of her finally attaining the freedom that she has been seeking.

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