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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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8. Regional Realism   

8. Regional

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Activities: Author Activities

Kate Chopin - Author Questions

Back Back to Kate Chopin Activities
  1. Comprehension: How does Edna rebel against social conventions in The Awakening? How does her rebellion begin? Which of her actions seem most shocking to her community?

  2. Context: Examine the nineteenth-century designs for bathing costumes and beach dresses featured in the archive. What kinds of attitudes toward women's bodies and women's athletic pursuits do these costumes reveal? How do these images affect your understanding of Edna's decision to swim naked into the Gulf at the end of The Awakening?

  3. Context: As its subtitle indicates, the short story "The Storm" functions as a sequel to "At the 'Cadian Ball," offering a glimpse of the characters' lives several years after the action of the first story. How do the events of "The Storm" complicate the resolution of "At the 'Cadian Ball"? How are we meant to understand the final line, "So the storm passed and every one was happy"? Why do you think Chopin never submitted this story for publication?

  4. Exploration: Literary critics disagree about how to interpret the meaning of Edna's suicide at the end of The Awakening. While some take the ending of the novel as an affirmation of Edna's strength and independence, others see it as psychologically out of character for Edna or as the pathetic act of a hopeless, defeated woman. How do you understand the ending of the novel? How does Chopin's representation of suicide resonate with descriptions of suicides or suicide attempts in later feminist American literature (by Dorothy Parker, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, or Susanna Kaysen, for example)? You might refer to Anne Sexton's poem to Sylvia Plath, "Sylvia's Death," in particular.

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