In The Awakening, on the night Robert says goodbye, Edna's children "appeared like antagonists who have overcome her, who had overpowered and sought to drag her into the sold slavery for the rest...

In The Awakening, on the night Robert says goodbye, Edna's children "appeared like antagonists who have overcome her, who had overpowered and sought to drag her into the sold slavery for the rest of her days.  But she knew a way to elude them".  How does this passage reflect on Edna as a mother?

Asked on by hollie42

2 Answers | Add Yours

gpane's profile pic

gpane | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

This reflects rather poorly on Edna as a mother. Her children appear to her here not just as encumbrances but as 'antagonists' actively opposing her, indeed oppressing her. The fact that she wants to 'elude' them, get away from them altogether, and does so by drowning herself, shows that ultimately she is not concerned for their welfare. This seriously undermines her role as a mother. In a word, she comes across as selfish, which is certainly not a desirable trait in a mother.

The narrative, however, seeks to explain Edna's feeling and acting in this way. It becomes clear that her marriage is la loveless one and so this at least partly explains why she is distant from the children, the products of this marriage. Whether or not it excuses it is a different matter, but the narrative as a whole is concerned with exploring Edna's 'awakening' to an appreciation of her own individual identity, independent of all others, including her children. It ends up being a rather extreme reaction on her part, but her sense of enslavement by her children, her family, and by society, helps to illustrate just how limiting the domestic role for women could be in that time and place. At first she seeks to shun her expected role as wife and mother in extra-marital affairs but in the end this does not really satisfy her either. The only thing she really wants is to be completely alone, beholden to no-one and nothing. If this involves repudiation of her children, then so be it. That is her point of view.

Although Edna feels distant from her children, though, she does not hate them. She realises right to the end that they are 'a part of her life'. However, she goes on to reflect:

But they need not have thought that they could possess her, body and soul.(chapter 39)

What Edna objects to is having to give her whole being over entirely to her husband and children, as she feels she is compelled to do. She wants other interests as well, but the society she lives in won't allow her to be anything else but the wholly devoted, dutiful wife and mother. She cannot accept this and so she commits suicide in order to escape. 

Sources:
laurto's profile pic

laurto | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

She wants to get away from her children, she sees them as people that oppress her and it makes her want to drown herself in the end. It reveals that she does not lover her children the way she should. She was in a loveless marriage, and she had children in a relationship in which there was no love. This reflects on how she talks about her children. She does not like to be around them. The theme of the book is independence, which Edna is trying to achieve through her awakening, and that includes get an individual away from her children and life. She cannot handle it and decides to end her life. 

We’ve answered 318,988 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question