The Awakening is one of those books that I meant to read for years, but never thought to actually acquire until I stumbled across it at a library sale and bought it for $1 with triumph in my heart. I assumed that I would love it, it being all feminist-y and what not. Alas, it failed me. Here's the quickest plot summary I can muster to get you onto the same page: Edna Pontellier becomes discontented with her role as respectable wife and mother, buys her own house, has an affair, and drowns. Along the way, she essentially abandons her children and is very racist.
I think the above may be enough to explain my issues with this novel, but I shall delve slightly deeper. I am a self-identified feminist. While this comes along with a lot of beliefs, one of those beliefs is that a woman does not need to procreate to be a "real" woman or any such nonsense. However, slightly separate from this is the belief that no matter who you are, abandoning your children is not okay. Also, "racist" and "feminist" do not go together in my book. Okay, technically Edna's not a feminist, but it seems like she's supposed to demonstrate some feminist ideals, which I take great issue with. Perhaps Edna is depressed, which would excuse her behavior to some extent, but it didn't feel like depression. It felt like she was simply bored, and decides to fuck up a bunch of people's lives as a result without even the decency of an explanation. Also, it's really difficult to identify with a character who never calls her children's nanny anything but a "quadroon" (excuse me while I vomit in my mouth). Edna seems to me to be little more than a child - selfish, impulsive, and all-around unconcerned with the fact that there are people who depend on her and whose lives will be damaged by her behavior. She is not a feminist figure or a forward-thinking woman, but a spoiled woman with a penchant for making drama.
Bring on the arguments.