Suggested Essay Topics
2. What is the symbolism of the caged parrot?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.
1. What other examples do we see of Edna’s lack of forethought?
2. How does Edna feel about marriage and romance and why?
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?
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?
1. Why does Robert feel the need to leave?
2. How does Edna’s realization of her love for Robert contribute to her awakening?
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?
1. What is the real cause of Edna’s anger? Why does she put her wedding ring back on?
2. How does Chopin use natural imagery to help the reader understand Edna’s moods?
1. How is the Ratignolles’ marriage different from the Pontelliers’?
2. What is it about Adele’s and Edna’s marriages that prevents them from knowing “life’s delirium”? Why is Adele content with this while Edna is not?
1. Why is Edna’s painting important to her awakening and her sense of independence?
2. What does Edna mean when she says that Adele is not a musician and she is not a painter?
1. Describe the different influences Adele and Mademoiselle Reisz have upon Edna.
2. Describe the significance of Edna’s bantering with Victor and how Edna has changed since she blushed at Robert’s story in Chapter IV.
1. Why does an artist need a courageous soul? Why is it hard for women of that era to have that kind of courage? What is Edna doing to achieve a courageous soul?
2. How does Chopin use music to set the mood? How does the music interact with Edna’s discovery of passion?
1. How are Dr. Mandelet’s attitudes...
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