At the end of Kate Chopin's The Awakening, Edna Pontellier walks out into the sea at Grand Isle. She swims again, recalling the freedom that she felt when she learned how to swim for the first time in that very place. She swims out far from the shore, so far that she knows she will not get back.
Edna has never been truly happy in her role as wife and mother. She cannot dote on her children and has come to realize she does not love her husband. Her affair with Robert has provided some happiness, but when he leaves for Mexico, Edna embarks on a major change. She begins painting and betting on horses, and soon she moves out of the family home and buys a house for herself. She has an affair with another man as well.
Robert returns for a while, and the two resume their affair. One day, Edna finds a note from Robert. He tells her that he loves her but that he is leaving because he loves her. This seems to be the proverbial final straw for Edna. She goes back to Grand Isle, the scene of her first “awakening,” and ends her life with one last swim. She simply cannot return to the unfulfilling life she had with her husband and children, while she also understands that continuing affairs with men would also have its impact on her family. Edna takes what little control she has left of her life and swims for as long as she can, pushing aside the fear she once felt.