Water is mentioned when certain significant events occur in The Awakening, most notably when Edna walks into the water at the end. Describe three instances where something significant or important happens in or near the water.

In The Awakening, Kate Chopin uses water as a backdrop for many important scenes, including Edna's first swim, the boat ride, and Edna's suicide. The water symbolize freedom, awakening, courage, and finally death.

Expert Answers

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The first step toward completing this assignment is a close reading of the text (or a quick re-read or re-scan of the text). Note incidents that take place near water. There are several, so be sure to choose three events that stand out as especially important—perhaps Edna learning to swim in chapter ten, the boat ride with Robert in chapter twelve, and Edna's final walk into the water in chapter thirty-four.

Let's take a look at each of these incidents. In the first, Edna conquers her fear of water and learns to swim. She strikes out on her own for the first time and begins to feel alive, like she is waking up and finding herself. Afterward, she dares to defy her husband, and she begins to acknowledge her feelings for Robert.

In chapter 12, the water again serves as a background when Edna reaches out to Robert for the first time and sends for him to go with her on a boat ride. Their relationship is building, and the water seems to help Edna find her courage and act in ways she never dreamed of acting before.

At the end of the novel, though, Edna walks out into the water one last time and does not return. She gives herself to the waves and to her memories. She says good-bye to Robert, knowing that he will never understand her actions. Readers are left wondering if Edna herself truly understands what she is doing and why.

Now, to finish the assignment, re-read these three sections of the text (or other chosen passages) and describe them in detail, also bringing out the significance of the water in the scene and what the water means for Edna at that moment of her life.

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