Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening relates the social, psychological, and sexual self-discovery of Edna Pontellier; a woman who has lived her life complying with every social expectation and convention that she has learned since birth.
Edna has never questioned her existence until the moment she falls in love with Robert Lebrun. It is then when she realizes that she has never really wanted to become a wife and mother like she used to think.
The social conventions of her time had basic tenets by which she had to live: Sacrificing herself for her children, become a property of her husband, and live content with spending the rest of her life with no other satisfaction than to meet her basic needs. It is at the end of the story, when Edna gives herself in to the ocean, when she realizes the vast emptiness of her life.
There was no one thing in the world that she desired. There was no human being whom she wanted near her except Robert; and she even realized that the day would come when he, too, and the thought of him would melt out of her existence, leaving her alone. The children appeared before her like antagonists who had overcome her; who had overpowered and sought to drag her into the soul's slavery for the rest of her days.