What is the Kentucky incident in chapter 7 of The Awakening?

Quick answer:

Edna prefers nature to the confines of religion.

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When Edna talks to her friend Adele, she recounts an incident from her childhood in Kentucky. She was walking through tall grass in a big field. She says,

I could see only the stretch of green before me, and I felt as if I must walk on forever, without coming...

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to the end of it. I don't remember whether I was frightened or pleased. I must have been entertained . . . Likely as not it was Sunday . . . and I was running away from prayers, from the Presbyterian service, read in a spirit of gloom by my father that chills me yet to think of.

It seems quite telling that Edna was entertained, even if she was maybe a little frightened, by the endless freedom afforded her by nature, especially in comparison to the strictures and gloom she associates with her church services. Even as a child, Edna felt confined and depressed by the rigors of religious belief, rather than inspired or uplifted by them. She obviously did not like to be so confined then, and she preferred the big field to the church. We see similar qualities in adult Edna; she prefers the sea—even though she cannot swim and it frightens her somewhat—to social codes and confines. She chafes against the expectations of her husband and her society, preferring the freedom she feels in nature (especially once she learns to swim).

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