Notes on The Awakening Themes

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The Awakening Topic Tracking: Water/Beach

Water/Beach 1: Edna Pontellier and Robert Lebrun kindle their silent romance at the beach. The first image of Edna is of her sun burnt on the sands, flirting with a man who is not her husband. The book begins in the water and also concludes in the water.

Water/Beach 2: The ocean is currently the only place in which Edna feels pure comfort and solace. She goes to it when in need of happiness and support. It is here in the water and on the beach with Robert that she opens her soul and walks openly into new waves. She does not understand why the ocean makes her feel as it does, but she goes to it nonetheless.

Water/Beach 3: As Edna swims out far into the ocean, she begins to get lost. She is somewhat afraid and somewhat exhilarated, for her new skill of swimming has brought her to unknown territory. Everyone watches from the shore as Edna displays her new swimming talents, and everyone also worries that she has swum out too far. She returns unharmed.

Water/Beach 4: Robert leaves Edna and walks in the direction of the beach. When the two depart from one another, they seem to always go to the place in which they found one another: the beach. It is her place of comfort...and is most likely his as well.

Water/Beach 5: While Robert is gone and Edna tries to move on with her life, she spends most of her time at the beach. She feels that the water is the only place in which she feels comfort and contentment and Robert. It is, after all, not only the place in which she develops feelings for Robert, but contrastingly it is the place in which she finds a sense of independence swimming in the water.

Water/Beach 6: As Edna and Robert catch up after so many months away from one another, they remind each other of the time they spent at Grande Isle on the beach. It is there that their relationship was at its purest and strongest. They both think of the other while at the beach or near water.

Water/Beach 7: Edna visits the water and dips her feet into it briefly. Once again, the water elicits so many mixed emotions, from her childhood and that summer at Grande Isle with Robert. The ocean is a seductive and powerful force that pulls Edna away from her world and into one of its own independent nature.

Water/Beach 8: Edna sees her bathing suit, but instead decides to undress and walk into the water naked as the day she was born. She pictures so many people in her life as she walks deeper into the water. It beckons her forward and she swims deeper and deeper until she is breathless and cannot turn around. The book begins and concludes with Edna in the water, just as life begins in water.

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