The Awakening, by Kate Chopin is a work of fictions that tells the story of a woman name Edna Pontellier. At the beginning, Edna is satisfied with her marriage to Leonce Pontellier, who is a wealthy New Orleans businessperson of forty, and the father of their two sons. However, she is still searching for something more in her life, sort of meaning for her existence. While in Grand Isle, a summer resort, she meets a man name Robert.
Robert is known among the vacationers as a man who chooses one woman each year; often a married woman. For that summer, he dedicated all his time to Edna. Edna and Robert spend much of the summer together. At first, their relationship is innocent. However, as they spend more time with each other, they grew closer. Edna feels most alive when with Robert.
She starts painting again, and soon learns to swim. She feels a sense of independence when she swims. She no longer feels satisfied about her marriage to Leonce. She begins to get depressed at night when she's with her husband. Their conversations starts to cease, and she no longer obeyed Leonce's commands.
Although Edna and Robert have intimate feelings for each other, they never openly discuss their feelings. When Robert leaves for Mexico, Edna is crushed, and becomes more depressed than ever. Leonce senses that something is wrong, but suspects nothing. After Edna and Leonce returns to New Orleans, Edna has changed into a whole new person. While back in New Orleans, Edna begins to separate her self from Leonce. She cannot stop thinking about Robert, so she tries to keep herself occupied by painting.
Edna no longer has reception days, or receive callers on Tuesdays. Leonce is displeased at the new Edna, but speculates that Edna is suffering form some mental disturbance, so he leaves her alone. Unable to understand his wife, Leonce finally seeks help from a family physician, Doctor Mandelet. Doctor Mandelet thinks that Edna's change is due to an affair, but he keeps his suspicions to himself, and tells Leonce to give Edna room, since he can no longer control her. When Leonce goes on a business trip, and the kids sent to their grandma's, Edna decides to move into a smaller house. With both Leonce and Robert gone, Edna had a small affair with the town seducer, Al cee A robin, but it all ended once she found out that Robert was coming back.
Robert writes to Mademoiselle Reisz, who lets Edna read the letters with out Robert's approvals. Mademoiselle is a devoted artist, who is an inspiration and model to Edna. Mademoiselle Reisz is the only person who knows of Robert and Edna's secret love for each other. When Robert returns to New Orleans, he tried to stay distant from Edna, but they bump into each other at Mademoiselle Reisz's house and at a caf'e. They talk candidly about her feelings towards each other.
Edna tells him that she is now independent, and she explains to Robert that they can go of together, and ignore everything that is irrelevant to their relationship. As they began showing intimate feelings towards each other Edna's servant interrupts to tell Edna that Adele, Edna's best friend is in labor, and wants Edna to be by her side. She leaves Robert, and tells him to wait for her. While at Adele's, Adele knows that something is going on between Edna and Robert, so she reminds Edna to think of her children.
Doctor Mandelet also showed some concern, he is worried about the outcome of her actions. When she returns, she finds a note on her porch from Robert saying he has left. Edna is once again saddened by his departure. She becomes overwhelmed by everything that has happened, and is unable to escape her problems. She returns to Grand Isle, the starting place of all her changes. She swims out into the water at night, without glancing back at everything she's leaving behind.
As she swims, she thinks of Leonce, her children, Robert, and of Mademoiselle Reisz's words. She ponders that Robert never understood her and never would. As exhaustion overtakes her, memories of her childhood fills her thoughts as she surrenders to the sea. The ending was a total shock to me. You could tell that Edna was headed for a downfall.
I think the reason she did what she did was to free herself from all the pain and frustration she was facing in the world. She was struggling in life, and nothing was going the way she wanted. The sea on the other hand, seemed friendly and open. The sea didn't have barriers, it was, "sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace." I think she picked the perfect place to surrender herself to. Although I don't believe suicide is the answer, but I think Edna was at a point where she was so fragile that she could not take anymore hits in life.
Her only solution, was giving her self to the sea.