Notes on The Awakening Themes

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The Awakening Topic Tracking: Painting

Painting 1: Edna is fascinated by the art of painting and attempts to sketch and paint her friends. She finally has the opportunity to paint Adele Ratignolle, a woman she claims to be as poised as a Madonna. She also paints Robert Lebrun. Edna throws away some of her sketches, claiming to be an amateur artist.

Painting 2: As Edna describes her youth and distant life in Kentucky, she paints images in her mind. She desperately wants to paint them, but instead uses the paint of memories. As a painter, Edna often uses artwork as her analogies to life. Although this piece of artwork is not physically paint on canvas, it is a metaphysical existence of paint on canvas in Edna's mind and memory.

Painting 3: Madame Lebrun shows Edna pictures of Robert as a young child and claims that he never took any pictures past a certain age. For Edna, a woman who values portraiture and painting, the idea of her beloved not wanting to be in a picture is disturbing.

Painting 4: After Leonce leaves the house, Edna brings herself together and tries to discover new outlets in her social life. She looks through her old sketches and sees the problems with her painting and technique.

Painting 5: Edna shows Adele Ratignolle her sketches for the first time, secretly hoping for overwhelming approval. Adele adores her work, compliments her on her talents, and silently thrills Edna. Edna keeps a few and gives the rest of the paintings to her friend, inspiring more work.

Painting 6: Edna's fickle mood dictates her ability and desire to paint. Sometimes she feels down and does nothing. Other times, the sun shines and she paints everything in her sight, freely and at will.

Painting 7: When Edna is in a somber mood, she seeks her friend Mademoiselle Reisz to discuss art and painting. She tells her of her desires to paint and become an artist. Mademoiselle Reisz tells her that an artist must have a courageous soul.

Painting 8: Alcee Arobin desperately wants to see Edna's work - her paintings. She puts off this request for a long time because she is not yet ready to welcome him into that part of her world. Her artwork and painting is extremely important to her and seems to be a portion of her identity, for anyone who knows her wants to see her work.

Painting 9: When Edna finally sees her beloved Robert again, it is at the home of Mademoiselle Reisz. He arrives, unexpected by Edna, and shocks her with his presence in New Orleans. He sees her work and one of the sketches of the head of Alcee Arobin and becomes angry. He doesn't understand why she would paint that man. Her painting becomes a reason to argue, instead of a reason to celebrate.

Painting 10: Edna hopes to study painting in Paris with the great artists of the time. Since Leonce hopes to travel to Europe, she hopes to improve upon her artwork and sense of independent skill while living as a typical traveling wife. She is not so serious about these classes, but thinks they would be a good experience if she does, in fact, travel abroad with Leonce.

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