Lesson 1: Kate Chopin's "The Awakening": No Choice but Under?

Kate Chopin's The Awakening is a frank look at a woman's life at the turn of the 19th century. Published in 1899, Chopin's novella shocked critics and audiences alike, who showed little sympathy for the author or her central protagonist, Edna Pontellier. A master of craft, Chopin wrote a forceful novel about a woman who questioned not only her role in society, but the standards of society itself. In this lesson, students examine Chopin in context.

Guiding Questions

How does The Awakening speak to the roles of women and the conventions of literature at the end of the 19th century?

How does Kate Chopin use other characters in The Awakening in order to cast Edna Pontellier's desires—and social limitations—in sharp relief?

Learning Objectives

Learn Kate Chopin's place in literary history

Define literary realism and discuss it as a style in American literature