The Awakening by Kate Chopin

The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Reading Guide
Introductory Information….
 Structure
o novel/novella
o 39 short chapters
o chronological narrative traditionally told
 Style
o post romantic – maintains rich style of prose, heavy in narration
o realistic subject matter
o mixture of dialogue & narrative summary to convey meaning
 Setting
o New Orleans – turn of the century
o Victorian ideals (Napoleonic Code)
o Aristocratic Creole culture - established traditions (Edna is an outsider
from Mississippi)
o City and summer resort
 Narration
o 3rd person omniscient
For Consideration…..
 Avoid reading any foreword your book may offer until after reading the novella.
These forwards often act as spoilers to your reading experience or color your
interpretation of the work.
 This novel has something of a jarring ending. Try not to ruin it for one another as
you discuss the book outside of class.
As you read…..
 Take margin notes actively in a manner consistent with the guide presented in
class. Especially watch for keys to our perception of Edna
o (anti) bildungsroman
o awakening: connotation/denotation
o self-awareness: is it present?
o What governs Edna: fatalism or free will?
 Additionally, circle and concisely define in the margins any vocabulary you
cannot decipher in context.
After you read….
Look up and print out three unique background sources on Chopin from the web (they
need not be long). Examine these sources for consistency of information, and identify any
contradictory content from the sources. Also, you may want to consider biographical
links between author and protagonist, though this novel is not considered to be a romana-clef (The Bell Jar). Bring this material with you the day the book is due.