The Awakening is very close to perfection. In each paragraph, there is much to be pondered. Kate Chopin's s subtle use of symbolism, the interweaving of themes, the deeper issues so deftly approached make me want to delve into this story for a very long time.
Mrs. Pontellier is such an appealing protagonist. I liked her. She married a man who keeps her as a trophy but does not value her for more than her status as his possession. He even pushes her into the companionship of Robert LeBrun, the man who flirts with all the women at the summer resort. His foil, Arobin, really is a scoundrel who does not, as Robert does, leave to protect everyone's honour, but presses on with his entanglements.
This story has an ambiguous ending - and rightly so. We are left to draw our own conclusions. But whether it is actual or symbolic, a death has indeed occured. Edna has completely separated from her old life. She can never return to the way things were. She has no problem with leaving her husband, or lovers, or friends; she is only torn about her children. All that is left at the end for her are her children. They are part of who she is, part of her own body and they are the last things she thinks of as she departs that life, truly or symbolically.
There is so much to enjoy about his story. Like many of the books I encountered in my university women writer's classes, I didn't have the maturity or experience to appreciate them as I now do.