What are some symbols in The Awakening?

In The Awakening, significant symbols are food and the sea, representing desires that were once repressed and a newfound sense of freedom.

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In The Awakening, the sea symbolizes liberation. The expansiveness of the ocean becomes an apt representation of Edna's own awakening. She learns to swim in the waters at Grand Isle and, through this, experiences a greater sense of self. The sea also takes on a baptismal quality since Edna is literally becoming a new person over the course of the story, going from a repressed society wife to a passionate artist. The sea could also be said to represent Edna herself, as it is often characterized as feminine by sailors, and the unpredictability of storms and waves could be interpreted to reflect Edna's inner turmoil. Ironically, while the sea symbolizes Edna's freedom and rebirth, it is also the place where she commits suicide, a reflection of how her awakening also leads to her destruction once she is unable to deal with the loneliness nonconformity brings in its wake.

Food symbolizes Edna's emotionally ravenous and sensual nature. After years of a stifling marriage in which it is demanded that she not bother with her own desires, Edna is hungry for all sorts of experience: sexual, emotional, and artistic. Her unashamed enjoyment of food, as opposed to the ladylike reserve she is supposed to display while eating, reflects this inner hunger and how Edna is no longer content to pretend it is not there.

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