Edna Pontellier is the protagonist of The Awakening because the novel follows her growing awareness of herself as an individual with wants and desires. At the beginning of the novel, Edna finds herself drawn to Robert Lebrun because he listens to what she has to say, in contrast to her husband, who spends most of his time amongst his business associates. Her realization that someone can treat her as an individual leads her to reexamine how she lives her life. She begins to actively spend time only with people whose company she enjoys, like Robert and Adèle. Although Robert leaves suddenly for Mexico, Edna’s exploration of her autonomy continues because her love for him stems from how he makes her feel about herself. She experiments with painting, ignoring her social duties, and having an affair. All these actions disturb those around her, leading Léonce to talk to Doctor Mandelet and Adèle to warn Edna on behalf of her children. At the end of the novel, Edna refuses to subvert her desires to society’s dictates and escapes into the sea, taking her own life instead of allowing others to take control over it.