I’m sure almost all of you reading have experienced the dreaded required readings of your high school days. I know that I had the great “fortune” to read a number of selected novels from the big guys who sit in the big chairs at the Board of Education. It seemed that with every book, my tolerance shrunk little by little. I can say that this was the case up untill I took AP Literature in my senior year of high school. The novels finally seemed to sing a different tune than all the others.
I especially connected to a novel by Kate Chopin. It was called The Awakening, and boy was I in store for a big one. The Awakening was the first novel that made me want more. You know when you’re reading a novel, not by choice, and you hit certain parts that you just don’t understand? Well we all know that we just skip it and assume we will figure it out later on in the story. Well, I tell you that I was so deep into this novel that I actually stopped to Google anything I didn’t understand! Yes, I’ll admit it! I wanted every part of the novel to thoroughly sink in that I made sure I understood every part.
Since I’ve made this book seem so fabulous, let me give you a BRIEF summary. The Awakening is a fictional novel set in the nineteenth century that is based on the life of Edna Pontellier. Edna is a wife and mother who grows to become very bored with her everyday life. She ends up having an affair with a young man (who is very attractive in my mind) and begins to recuse her common womanly duties. The very attractive man gives Edna the tools to become an independent woman. The main gift the man gave Edna was the ability to swim on her own. In the end, Edna is so immersed with this freedom that swimming gives her that she swims too far out. The novel ends in the reader coming to their own conclusion about whether Ednas drowns or survives.
As I stated earlier, this novel was brought to my attention through my wonderful English teacher, Mrs. Gibson. Mrs. Gibson selected The Awakening for our class to read in our senior year. This novel made a difference in my life in two ways. First, it made me less judgmental. At first, I thought this novel was going to be another dud that the board thought would be “educational”. I learned to give everything a fair and equal chance which I feel I’ve applied to more than just required readings.
Secondly, the novel made me notice that I shouldn’t settle. Edna knew the cards that she was going to be dealt and she just took it and led a miserable life until she broke free. This applies most to me in the aspect of my career. I know that I won’t let myself get stuck in a career that a hate because it will lead to over unhappiness. Edna taught me a lot by her actions, even if she is a fictional character. I believe that you should always try to break free of your everyday norm if it makes you unhappy.
Check out Kate Chopin’s website where you can learn more about The Awakening!