The Awakening

Kate Chopin
Main Ideas

Themes

Main Ideas Themes

As Edna’s ability to express herself grows, the number of people who can understand her newfound languages shrinks. Ultimately, Edna’s suicide is linked to a dearth of people who can truly understand and empathize with her. Especially after Robert’s rejection of her in Chapter XXXVIII, Edna is convinced definitively of her essential solitude because the language of convention Robert speaks has become incomprehensible to Edna. Although Robert has taught her the language of sexuality, Edna has become too fluent. In this dilemma, Edna mirrors the parrot in Chapter I, which speaks French and “a little Spanish” but “also a language which nobody understood, unless it was the mocking-bird. . . .” The mockingbird, which merely whistles inarticulate “fluty notes” with “maddening persistence,” resembles Edna’s friends who seem to understand Edna but do not speak back.