Suggested Essay Topics

Chapter I
1. Describe the attitude of Leonce toward Edna and how it differs from Robert’s.

2. What is the symbolism of the caged parrot?

Chapter II
1. What does Edna’s appearance tell us about her personality?

2. How does Edna and Robert’s relationship differ from Edna and Leonce’s thus far?

Chapter III
1. What does Edna’s cry and accompanying feelings suggest about her “awakening”?

2. Why is it actually a problem for Edna that Leonce is considered to be such a good husband?

Chapter IV
1. How does Edna’s desire for independence conflict with the image of the mother-woman?

2. Compare and contrast Edna and Adele with respect to physical appearance and temperament.

Chapters V and VI
1. Describe the changes Edna has gone through so far.

2. How does the sea fit in with Edna’s awakening?

Chapter VII
1. Compare Edna’s feelings for Leonce with her feelings for the soldier, the tragedian, and Robert.

2. Why does Edna’s sharing feel like freedom?

Chapter VIII
1. What has Edna said or done that would make Adele worry that she might take Robert’s affections seriously?

2. How does not being a Creole affect Edna? Why is it difficult for outsiders in any society to adjust and fit in?

Chapter IX
1. What is the difference between the way Adele and Mademoiselle Reisz play the piano? How does each one’s style affect Edna?

2. What is the similarity between Edna and the image of the lonely man she conjures up while listening to Adele play?

Chapter X
1. How does learning to swim contribute to Edna’s awakening?

2. What is the significance of Robert’s story about the spirit that haunts the shores and his statement to Edna that tonight the spirit found her?

Chapter XI
1. What are the realities that Edna is talking about when she says she feels again “the realities pressing into her soul”? Why do these realities cause her to go inside?

2. Put yourself in Leonce’s place. Describe your reaction to Edna’s refusal to come inside.

Chapter XII
1. What other examples do we see of Edna’s lack of forethought?

2. How does Edna feel about marriage and romance and why?

Chapter XIII
1. How does the idea of fairy tale fit in with Edna’s awakening and her relationship with Robert?

2. What is Edna’s attitude about food and eating? What does this tell us about her personality?

Chapter XIV
1. Describe Edna’s relationship with her children and why it changes based on her feelings about herself.

2. What are some of the ways Edna has changed already?

Chapter XV
1. Why does Robert feel the need to leave?

2. How does Edna’s realization of her love for Robert contribute to her awakening?

Chapter XVI
1. Describe the gulf that has grown between Edna and Adele. Why doesn’t Adele understand what Edna is telling her?

2. What is considered essential by Edna compared to what would be considered essential by other women of her time?

Chapter XVII
1. What is...

(The entire section is 1455 words.)