Why does Edna's sharing feel like freedom?

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At the beach one afternoon, Edna shares a story with Adele about herself as a child, cutting through a big field of green in Kentucky. She believes she might have been running away from church on a Sunday rather than submitting to prayers that were "'read in a spirit of gloom by [her] father.'" She was seeking freedom. Edna shares with her friend realizing that she's never really shared in this affectionate and intimate way before. Her relationships with her sisters really did not permit it, for various reasons, and

Edna had had an occasional girl friend, but whether accidentally or not, they seemed to have been all of one type—the self-contained. She never realized that the reserve of her own character had much, perhaps everything, to do with this.

Edna has had to submit to so many different types of confinement: confinement by her gender, confinement in her marriage, confinement as a mother. Now, in this moment, however, Edna is able to escape the self-containment she's always adopted and let herself open up, and this would feel quite a bit like freedom in a way.

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As part of her awakening, Edna becomes acutely aware of her role as a mother and a woman. In doing so, she recognizes the importance of sharing. As she tells Madame Ratignolle she would gladly give her life and all she has for the sake of her children. This is the last in the series of awakenings that Edna experiences, and it is the one most crucial of all to her understanding of what it means to be free. Edna has come to see motherhood and womanhood no longer as duties to be performed according to established convention, but as intrinsic components of her new-found individuality. The nurturing and sharing involved in motherhood, far from representing a restriction on freedom, are actually its highest expression. For Edna, sharing becomes a choice, not a duty.

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